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poster WCD2017 ENPAHO is uniting with the global cancer community to commemorate World Cancer Day on February 4, with the slogan ''We can. I can''. World Cancer Day is is an opportunity to raise awareness and draw attention to the fact that everyone - individually and collectively - can help to prevent and control cancer.

In the Americas, cancer is the second leading cause of death, where there are an estimated 2.8 million people are newly diagnosed each year and 1.3 million people are dying from the disease each year.  Approximately 52% of new cancer cases and 35% of cancer deaths are in people 65 years of age and younger, in the prime of their lives.  If no further action is taken, the cancer situation is projected to increase to over 4 million new cancer cases and 1.9 million cancer deaths by the year 2025.

Cancer can be prevented and controlled by implementing evidence-based strategies for cancer prevention, screening and early detection, treatment and palliative care. The most common modifiable risk factors for cancer, which are shared with many other noncommunicable diseases, are:

  • Tobacco use
  • Low fruit and vegetable intake
  • Harmful use of alcohol
  • Lack of physical activity
  • Chronic infections from human papilloma virus (HPV) -for cervical cancer, hepatitis B and C - for liver cancer, and H.pylori - for stomach cancer

It is estimated that 30-40 percent of cancers can be prevented by reducing these risk factors. Public health policies can be put in place to support individual healthy lifestyle choices, and that make them the easy choice. Many other cancer types, notably cervical, breast and colorectal cancer can be detected early and treated effectively through organized screening and early detection programs, and access to timely cancer treatment.

The World Cancer Day 2017 campaign calls for joint efforts between governments, nongovernmental organizations and civil society organizations to promote action and investments in areas including tobacco control, promotion of healthy lifestyles, cancer screening and early detection, and improved cancer treatment services, as well as palliative care when cure is not possible.

PAHO/WHO is working with its member countries in different aspects related to cancer prevention and control. For cancer prevention, PAHO/WHO is:

  • Advocating for reducing the use of tobacco and harmful use of alcohol and encouraging healthy lifestyles.
  • Supporting the introduction of HPV vaccines and HPV testing for improved cervical cancer prevention programs.

For cancer control PAHO/WHO is:

  • Working in the improvement of the quality of screening and diagnosis cancer services with a focus on early detection of breast and cervical cancers.
  • Improving the quality of radiotherapy, and access to affordable and essential chemotherapy drugs for cancer treatment.
  • Expanding access to palliative care programs and opioids for pain relief and symptom management.
  • Working with the governments in ensuring equal access to health services for all the cancer patients, aiming to reduce their catastrophic health expenditure and improve quality of life and survival chances.

Together we can reduce the cancer burden in the Americas.

Related links

Advocacy materials

Messages for the World Cancer Day 2016-2018 campaign, under the theme of "We can. I can" seek to explore how everyone - as a collective or as individuals - can do their part to reduce the global burden of cancer. It is the right and the duty of every one of us, individuals, organizations and governments to do everything that is in our hands to lower the impact of this epidemic.

Find below a set of social media graphic cards that you can download and share within your networks.