20 years of World Cancer Day: A growing, global movement for action

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The day seeks to raise cancer awareness, improve education and catalyse action to prevent millions of deaths from cancer.

Union for International Cancer Control (UICC)


The Union for International Cancer Control (UICC) unites and supports the cancer community to reduce the global cancer burden, to promote greater equity, and to ensure that cancer control continues to be a priority in the world health and development agenda.

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Every year on 4 February, World Cancer Day unites the global community in raising the collective voice against cancer. Led by the Union for International Cancer Control (UICC), the day seeks to raise cancer awareness, improve education and catalyse action to prevent millions of deaths from cancer.

An inclusive and empowering initiative, World Cancer Day provides an opportunity to open up conversations that can help confront the myths, misconceptions and fears around cancer which can often inhibit a more proactive approach to an individual’s own health. Importantly, it is a day that mobilises the support of government leaders, healthcare professionals, the private sector, the cancer community, the public and the media to drive deliberate action around some of the most pressing cancer control issues, including improving equity in access to cancer information, prevention, care and services.

This year’s campaign under the theme of ‘I Am and I Will’ urges everyone to make a personal commitment  and is a positive reminder that each person can play an important part in reducing the impact of cancer on themselves, their loved ones and their community.

2020 also marks a significant milestone: the 20th anniversary of World Cancer Day. To celebrate the occasion, UICC commissioned an international survey of over 15,000 people in 20 countries to better understand how people around the world feel, think and believe about cancer.

One of the most concerning findings is that clear inequities exist between socioeconomic groups in all surveyed countries. Those who have a lower income and a lower level of education are less likely to recognise the main cancer risk factors and to take steps in reducing their cancer risk.

This particular finding should serve as an impetus to double-down on efforts to reduce the inequities faced by lower socioeconomic groups. Government responses must include national policies that explicitly focus on addressing this gap, including prioritising awareness and education programmes that engage lower socioeconomic groups. The International Public Opinion Survey on Cancer report with full findings can be accessed at worldcancerday.org/PublicOpinion.

On World Cancer Day, each person can speak up and lend their support to reimagine a world where millions of lives are saved from unnecessary cancer deaths and for everyone, everywhere to have an equal chance to a healthier, brighter future. To join World Cancer Day, and for more information, visit worldcancerday.org.

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