World Cancer Day Marks 20th Anniversary

two women embrace with text "I am and I will. Join us on 4 February. World Cancer Day."

Tuesday, February 4th is the 20th anniversary of World Cancer Day, when organizations and people around the world unite to raise awareness about cancer and work to make it a global health priority. To mark the anniversary, the Union for International Cancer Control (UICC), which organizes World Cancer Day, is releasing a report about its global survey of the public’s perceptions of cancer. More than 15,000 adults from 20 countries answered questions about cancer risk and prevention. According to the report:

  • The most recognized cancer risk factors were tobacco use (63%), exposure to ultraviolet (UV) rays (54%), and secondhand smoke (50%).
  • The least recognized cancer risk factors were being overweight (29%), lack of physical activity (28%), and exposure to viruses or bacteria (28%).
  • People with lower income and less education were less likely than those with higher income and education to recognize cancer risk factors and less likely to take steps to lower their risk.

The UICC calls the gaps in awareness “unacceptable” and is asking people, governments, and the global cancer community to improve knowledge about cancer risks than can lead to healthier behaviors.

UICC Chief Executive Officer, Union for International Cancer Control, Cary Adams said in a statement,

“It is unacceptable that millions of people have a greater chance of developing cancer in their lifetime, because they are simply not aware of the cancer risks to avoid and the healthy behaviors to adopt – information that many of us take for granted. And this is true around the world.”

Calling on governments

The report found 84% of people surveyed felt that governments should do something about cancer. The actions people identified as most important were making treatment more affordable and funding research. The UICC is calling on governments around the world to:

  • Make cancer awareness a priority with progressive health policies and education that support healthy behaviors and focus on engaging people from lower socio-economic populations.
  • Make sure the public has up-to-date information on cancer risks and prevention, in a way that is accessible to people from lower socioeconomic backgrounds.
  • Enact policies to help lower use of products that increase the risk for cancer, such as tobacco and sugary foods and drinks.

‘I Am and I Will’

This is the second year of the UICC’s 3-year campaign with the theme “I Am and I Will.”  It calls for every person to make a commitment – big or small – to help reduce the global burden of cancer. The UICC is asking everyone to:

Communities around the world will hold festivals, walks, seminars, public information campaigns and other events on World Cancer Day. The goal is to raise awareness and educate people on how to fight cancer through screening and early detection, through healthy eating and physical activity, by quitting smoking, and by urging public officials to make cancer issues a priority.

The American Cancer Society medical and editorial content team

Our team is made up of doctors and oncology certified nurses with deep knowledge of cancer care as well as journalists, editors, and translators with extensive experience in medical writing.


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