Kenneth L Abbott, MD, FACP  |  1/31/2022

World Cancer Day | February 4, 2022

Many groups and organizations dedicate themselves to achieving progress in the ongoing fight against cancer. One such organization of longstanding importance to the cancer care community is the Union for International Cancer Control (UICC). Oncologists know the UICC best for its efforts to develop broadly applicable methods for determining the stage of a cancer based on the characteristics of the primary tumor mass itself (“T”), the characteristics of the associated involvement of lymph nodes (“N”), and the presence or absence of metastatic (spread beyond the local area) cancer cells (“M”). Together these categories produce the TNM system of cancer staging that is the international standard in cancer medicine. As more knowledge accumulates about the behavior of each defined cancer, the UICC (and its American partner, the American Joint Committee on Cancer, or AJCC) modify the system, improving the accuracy and precision of cancer staging. The current manual of cancer staging, published in 2016 in the eighth edition, sits in a readily accessible place on my office desk. At CHMC, we strive to ensure that every person with a cancer diagnosis receives a correct stage assignment, which correlates highly with applying the appropriate, evidence-based treatment in each case.

Since 2000, the UICC has promoted World Cancer Day, which falls on 4 February this year, as a means by which to make people more aware of the human toll of this disease and the ongoing efforts to defeat it. As the UICC points out on its website, every year 10 million people across the globe die of cancer; this is expected to rise to 13 million by the end of this decade. We can prevent fully one third of cancers, however, and we can cure another third if affected persons receive effective screening to allow for early diagnosis and proper treatment. That’s a lot of meaningful difference, especially to the individuals who benefit and everyone who cares for and about them.

World Cancer Day exists to raise awareness of the global cancer problem and to encourage and facilitate research as well as the provision of clinical cancer care, especially in underserved areas. Visit the website at worldcancerday.org to learn more about the UICC’s worthy efforts and to participate in any or all of three focus activities for 2022: addressing the gap in cancer care, methods of improving your lifestyle to reduce your cancer risk, and suggestions for helping the efforts to eliminate the global scourge of cervical cancer.

Cancer awareness is more than adding ribbons and pink shoes to your wardrobe. A consistent theme of the articles published here has been the power of knowledge. Take advantage of World Cancer Day resources to fuel up and energize your fight against cancer.
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