Today, 04 Feb, is World Cancer Day (WCD).

Cancer is the second biggest killer disease in the world. In 2012, world had 14.1 million cancer cases and 8.2 million deaths. In 20 years, the number of new cancer cases will rise to 22 million. India had 14.5 lakh new cancer cases and 7.36 lakh deaths in 2016; the number will rise to 17.3 lakh new cases and 8.8 lakh deaths in 2020.

Cancer is not just one disease, but many diseases. There are more than 100 kinds of cancer.

Cancer is a 2000 year old disease. It is no longer the sure killer it was: the 10-year cancer survival rates have increased from an average of 24% in the early 1970s to about 50% today. But for a few types of cancer, the rates have hardly improved: pancreatic (1%), lung (5%) and oesophageal (12%). But advances in genetics promise effective treatment for all types of cancer in five to 10 years.

Cancer is intrinsic to life process. Life begins with a single cell that divides and then divides again and this process goes on till the cell becomes a full grown life. These normal cells stop dividing when not required; also the old cells die. But sometimes a cell becomes abnormal. It divides uncontrollably, does not die, and invades other tissues. This abnormal cell is a cancer cell. These cells spread to other parts of the body through the blood and lymph systems. Why a cell becomes abnormal is not known as yet.

Therefore we cannot prevent cancer. But we can greatly reduce the risk of cancer by a few simple life style changes: avoid tobacco, limit alcohol use, protect your skin from the sun and avoid indoor tanning, eat a diet rich in fruits and vegetables and limit red meat, keep a healthy weight, be physically active, go for cancer screening and get vaccinated.

To raise cancer-awareness, cities and landmarks around the world are lit in ‘cancer-ribbon colours,’ pink and blue and multicolour, on WCD,

Light a candle tonight 08 pm to mark the WCD

 

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