world cancer day

World Cancer Day: Eight facts you should know

Andile Sicetsha - 04.02.2021

246 years after it was first discovered, cancer still claims millions of lives every year. Here are eight important facts you should know about the disease on #WorldCancerDay.

It is quite poetic that on this day in 2021, we celebrate the 21st annual World Cancer Day.

The plight of a disease that has killed millions — and continues to do so — has been dwarfed by the Covid-19 pandemic. Still, compared to cancer, the respiratory virus is an amateur.

World Cancer Day: Comparing cancer to Covid-19

While it is true that coronaviruses have been around for at least 20 years, cancer was first discovered by British surgeon Percivall Pott in — wait for it — 1775.

The disease has plagued humanity for so long, there is no way of quantifying the total number of deaths related to it, since it was discovered 246 years ago.

In 2018 alone, according to the National Cancer Institute, cancer was responsible for 9.5 million deaths. Using that statistic alone, cancer is at least nine times more deadly than Covid-19.

Simple tips to detect cancer symptoms

The notoriety of the latter has allowed cancer to continue on its murderous path away from the spotlight. This is part of what makes World Cancer Day so important.

Raising awareness about early detection can go a long way to saving many lives. And that’s just it. The trick to beating most cancers is detecting it before it fully matures into a terminal illness.

The Cancer Association of South Africa (CANSA) has published a list of symptoms to look out for regularly and they include:

Commemorating World Cancer Day: Eight facts you should know

To further education on the disease, we have sourced 8 facts about cancer, courtesy of the World Health Organisation:

About 16% of people die from cancer

  • In 2015, 8.8 million people died from the disease. That’s nearly one in six global deaths.

Cancer affects everyone

  • About 70% of all deaths from cancer occur in low and middle-income countries.

The top five types of cancer killing men are:

  • The five most common types of killer cancer in men are lung, stomach, colorectal and prostate cancers.

The top five types of cancer killing women are:

  • The five most common types of killer cancer are breast, lung, colorectal, cervical and stomach cancers.

Not using tobacco can help prevent cancer

  • Between 30-50% of cancers are preventable Tobacco use is the single largest preventable cause of cancer in the world. Yet, it claims 22% of all cancer-related deaths.

Access to cancer treatment in poor countries is still low

  • In 2017, not more than 30% of low-income countries could gain access to cancer treatment services.

Cancer hurts the global economy

  • The total annual cost of cancer, 11 years ago, was R24 trillion.

Lack of data disables policy

  • Only one in five low-to-middle income countries are able to collect and share data to drive cancer policy.