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Emphasis on early detection and prevention on a national cancer awareness day, November 7th

National Cancer Awareness Day is celebrated annually on November 7th, to spread awareness and kick start conversations around Cancer, which according to the World Health Organization is the second-leading cause of death globally. The initiative was announced in September 2014 by Dr. Harsh Vardhan, the then Minister Of Health. It commemorates the birth anniversary of Madam Curie whose discovery of radium and polonium and scientific work in the development of nuclear energy and radiotherapy was instrumental in the treatment of the disease. 

India’s cancer program, the National Cancer Control Programme was started in 1975. The vision behind it was to establish cancer treatment facilities in the nation and further in 1984-85, the vision was to focus on early detection and prevention of cancer as the concept of ‘sooner the better’ gains more importance due to the fact that early detection and diagnosis has proved to be life-saving in many cases. The current need for early detection stems from the fact that a large number of cases in the country are detected in the patient at an already advanced stage, thus reducing the chances of survival. 

Hence, on November 7 every year, people are encouraged to visit hospitals, Health Scheme centres, and municipal clinics for free cancer screening. Booklets and leaflets are also circulated to raise awareness among the masses on early detection and prevention of cancer.

According to the Cancer Statistics report in India, around 2.25 million people suffer from the disease with 1.1 million cases being reported every year along with an estimated 784,821 deaths. In men usually, lip, oral cavity, lung, stomach, oesophagus-related cancers are highly reported while in women breast, lip, oral cavity, lung, and gastric-related cancers are the more common type. Global figures by the World Health Organization (WHO), accounts cancer caused nearly 10 million fatalities in 2020 with cancer in the lungs, colon, and rectum, liver, stomach, and breast are the most common.

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