Every February 4, is observed globally as World Cancer Day. The day is marked by activities including awareness creation campaigns and educational programmes.
The World Cancer Day is a campaign built to resonate, inspire change and mobilise action long after the day has passed.
A multi-year campaign, it offers a chance to create long-lasting impact by increasing public-facing exposure and engagement, more opportunities to build global awareness and impact-driven action. Everyone has the power to reduce the impact of cancer.
As part of activities to mark the day, the Hope for Future Generations, (HFFG), a children, youth and women-focused non-governmental organisation, has called on the government to pay special attention to cervical cancer which is the second most common cancer in women living in the country.
According to the NGO, available data suggest that about 3,151 new cervical cancer cases were diagnosed in Ghana in 2018, hence the need for more energies and investments to be channelled into initiatives to reduce the cervical cancer burden.
A release issued by the organisation and signed by the Executive Director, Mrs Cecilia Senoo, said “the annual number of cervical cancer deaths in Ghana is around 2,119, and as it stands, there are many women at risk” saying that “this calls for an upscale in national cancer response, if we are to attain Goal three of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).
It said though studies had shown that early screening for cervical cancer was key to save thousands of lives, there were many women, specifically from rural, and lower-socioeconomic populations who were being left behind.
She urged the government to ensure that sustainable programmes were put in place to promote the vaccination of girls and women against cervical cancer.
It said approximately 70 per cent of deaths from cancer occur in low- and middle-income countries including Ghana, a phenomenon that may derail the attainment of Goal 3 of the SDGs.
Cancer Society of Ghana
In a related development, the Cancer Society of Ghana (CSG) in a press statement estimated the total annual economic cost of cancer at US$1.16 trillion.
A statement signed by the Chairman of Trustees of the CSG, Professor Edwin K. Wiredu, said at least one third of common cancers were preventable, however, it says cancer was the second-leading cause of death worldwide with 70 per cent of the deaths occurring in low-to-middle income countries.
It said up to 3.7 million lives could be saved each year by implementing resource appropriate strategies for prevention, early detection and treatment.
It gave the most frequent cancers in men as cancers of the liver, prostate, Non-Hodgkin’s Lymphoma (NHL) and that of women as cancers of the cervix, breast and liver.
According to the CSG, there was low awareness of cancer in the country and as a result most of the cases were presented in health facilities at the late stages.
Causes of cancer
Cancers can be caused by a number of different factors. Most cancers are the result of exposure to a number of different causal factors.
It is important to remember that while some factors cannot be modified, around one-third of cancer cases can be prevented by reducing behavioural and dietary risks.
The modifiable risk factors include alcohol, overweight/obesity, diet and nutrition, physical inactivity, tobacco, ionizing radiation, workplace hazards, and infection.
The non-modifiable risk factors include age, cancer-causing substances (carcinogens), genetics and the immune system.
“The CSG will work closely with other cancer-related groups and the Non-Communicable Disease wing of the country’s health service to create awareness and educate the public about the identified behavioural and dietary risks to cancers”, it said.
It encouraged people to increase consumption of cocoa, saying cocoa has a high concentration of catechins and procyanidins, bioactive compounds with distinct properties.
World Cancer Day
World Cancer Day, marked on February 4 every year, is an initiative of the Union of International Cancer Control (UICC) under which the entire world can unite together in the fight against the global cancer epidemic.
The World Cancer Day aims to save millions of preventable deaths each year by raising awareness and education about cancer, and pressing governments and individuals across the world to take action against the disease.
The theme adopted by the UICC for the period 2019-2021 is “I Am And I Will” with a hashtag for #IamAndIWill.
This year marks the launch of the three-year ‘I Am and I Will’ campaign.
The campaign is an empowering call to action, urging everyone to demonstrate personal commitment.
It represents the power of individual action taken now to impact the future.