What is World Cancer Day and what is the theme for 2023?

Purple ribbon as a symbol of World Cancer Day on a purple background.

A purple ribbon is a symbol of World Cancer Day (Image: Getty Images/iStockphoto)

Today is World Cancer Day and with 10 million people a year worldwide dying from the disease, the aim is to raise awareness and improve care.

ONE The Cancer Research report, published ahead of World Cancer Day, shows that the number of cancer cases in the UK is expected to rise to more than half a million a year by 2040 – a third.

Tragically, around 70% of all cancer deaths are in low- and middle-income countries – which are least able to provide the help people need.

It is estimated that 3.7 million lives could be saved worldwide each year with strategies such as early diagnosis and early treatment.

So what is World Cancer Day 2023, what is the theme for this year and how can you get involved?

What is World Cancer Day?

World Cancer Day 2023 concept

World Cancer Day 2023 aims to improve cancer care (Image: Getty Images/iStockphoto)

It was created in 2000 at the World Cancer Summit in Paris and was the brainchild of six cancer experts.

They were determined to highlight the global challenges posed by cancer – reimagining “a world where everyone enjoys access to the cancer treatment, prevention and care they need”.

Every year on February 4, hundreds of activities and events take place around the world, in schools, businesses, hospitals and within communities.

It is led by the Union for International Cancer Control (UICC), an umbrella group of organizations, charities and health ministries worldwide fighting the disease.

Cancer cell destruction, illustration

Destroying cancer cells saves lives (Image: Getty Images/Science Photo Libra)

According Cancer Research UK’s report, “with services barely treading water now, governments across the UK need to act.

“Nearly a year after it was first announced, the government has reneged on its promise to publish a long-term cancer plan for England.

“Meanwhile, the Scottish Government is expected to publish its cancer strategy this spring. But in Northern Ireland, despite publishing their cancer strategy last year, political instability there meant its implementation was impossible.

And the new cancer improvement plan for Wales shows promise for tackling urgent challenges, however, it is only a short-term, three-year plan.

“More needs to be done.”

What is the theme of World Cancer Day 2023

Nurse/doctor doing a smear test

Many millions of people in the world do not have access to cancer screening (Credit: Getty Images)

Last year’s World Cancer Day theme continues in 2023 – “close the care gap‘.

It’s all about challenging the disparities in cancer care around the world.

“Half of the world’s population does not have access to the full range of basic health services,” says the UICC.

“We live in an age of awe-inspiring progress that has seen survival rates for many cancers skyrocket. In most countries around the world, however, many people are unable to effectively access adequate cancer care, even when the infrastructure and expertise are in place.”

Income, education, location and discrimination based on ethnicity, gender, sexual orientation, age, disability and lifestyle are just some of the factors that can negatively impact care.

How can you get involved in World Cancer Day?

Participating in World Cancer Day helps those living with the disease (Image: Getty Images/iStockphoto)

The The World Cancer Day website has lots of ideas.

You could share a post on social media or join the 5k challenge by swimming, hiking, biking, running or walking.

There are also guides on how you can talk and help people with cancer and create your own events – as well as a map of what’s happening.

Plus you can take the one minute cancer quiz and of course it has details on how you can donate.

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