World Cancer Day: "We Can" and We Will Make a Difference

World Cancer Day: "We Can" and We Will Make a Difference

International Perspectives

Feb 03, 2016

World Cancer Day logoBy ASCO CEO Allen S. Lichter, MD, FASCO

We in the international cancer community frequently focus on the daunting statistics and significant challenges that cancer professionals and our patients face every day: limited resources, late diagnoses, high mortality rates, and rising cancer incidence, particularly in settings that can least afford cancer care.

This is a reality, and we must engage this reality. But we must do so with the knowledge that we can and we will make a difference. “We Can” and “I Can” are the simple but incredibly powerful messages that the Union for International Cancer Control (UICC) has selected for this year’s World Cancer Day.

ASCO could not be more supportive of UICC’s unequivocal message. Indeed, more than 50 years ago, seven physicians came together to found our Society precisely because they shared a firm belief that advances could be made, cure rates improved, lives could be saved. Positive thinking resides in the very DNA of our organization, and runs through all of our educational and policy initiatives, our efforts to reduce disparities internationally through ASCO International, and the many ways our Conquer Cancer Foundation is working to “create a world free from the fear of cancer”.

I strongly encourage you to heed UICC’s call and visit the UICC website for specific themes. These are too numerous to list all here, but include many where ASCO and its nearly 40,000 members are particularly active: “prevent cancer,” “challenge perceptions,” “improve access to cancer care,” “build a quality cancer workforce,” “understand that early detection saves lives,” and “mobilize networks to drive progress.”

Thank you to all of you who drive progress in these areas each and every day. Let’s strive to support the UICC vision not only on World Cancer Day, but on every day of the year.

Learn more about how you can support World Cancer Day.

Read more posts in ASCO Connection’s blog series on World Cancer Day:


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Katharina Pachmann, MD

Feb, 02 2016 7:25 PM

If we understand that early detection saves lives, how can we explain that the United states have 12 fold more cancers detected per population than Afghanistan (due to detection of early disease) and as a consequence not less deaths but still 6 fold more deaths from cancer than Afghanistan. In my understanding this would indicate that early detection does not lead to a reduction in mortality. The same is true for DCIS in the USA: In 1980 300 DCIS were detected with a letality of 10% resulting in 30 deaths. In 2012 60 000 DCIS were detected with a letality of 1% meaning 600 deaths. Thus early detection would result in a 20 fold increase in deaths as a result of  early detection.

Samata M. Kakkad

Feb, 03 2016 4:20 PM

Cancer metastasis is more difficult to treat than treating cancer before it has invaded. Detecting and treating cancer at an early stage has higher survival rates compared to cancer diagnosed at a later stage. This would mean early detection could save lives. 

United States has 12 fold more cancers detected with 6 fold more deaths from cancer than Afghanistan. A correlation may exist but that doesn’t mean it is causal. There are many missing variable that are influencing the correlation. For example, from the 12 fold more detected cancer cases how many cases were early stage or late stage diagnosis? What type of cancers were prevalent in both countries? The dietary habits, environment factors etc. in the two countries are completely different. 

For the DCIS report, if in 2012 the mortality rate was 10% as it was in 1980, number of deaths in 2012 would have been 6000. But the number of deaths in 2012 were 600, which means mortality rate reduced by 10%. We could then say early detection saved lives, but there are some other factors we should look at like improved therapy, types of cancer prevalent in 1980 compared to in 2012, etc. 

Rania A. Azmi, PhD, MSc, BSc

Feb, 03 2016 3:05 AM

I am proud of both the UICC and ASCO for emphasizing "We Can" and especially, the "I Can" part for this year's World Cancer Day message. In cancer advocacy, I cannot emphasize more the importance of the role each one of us could play in prevention and awareness, so “I can” would make all the difference. What it takes to change lifestyles to healthier ones, what it takes to get the right information about cancer and its prevention across the globe, and what it takes to believe that we all can change the status quo of current cancer situation? We can, I can, but together. Thank you.

Ridha Oueslati, PhD

Feb, 06 2016 7:09 AM

It is an honor to be one from the family working in cancer field. In these days , it is normal to avance the National and International Institutions actively support cancer area around the world. The regrad around cancer is different linked to the ecology of each country. Echange information is actually more easy by the new technology.I am confident by this technology we will cooperate more and advanced better.More assistance of midle and low countries are necessary to talk in the same way.

Katharina Pachmann, MD

Feb, 13 2016 2:58 AM

It depends whether you look at rates or total events. In breast cancer incidence of breast cancer has more than doubled from 1980 to the expected incicdence in 2016 most probably due to early detection and detection of tumors of no significance but breast cancer deaths have not declined but still increased from 34 481 in 1980 to 40 450 expected in 2016. So early detection still has not reduced the number of deaths. There may many reasons for this. The same holds true for DCIS where there has been a 200fold increase in incidences but "only" a 20 fold increase in deaths. Still the number of deaths has not decreased but increased. Is it possible that treatment leads to this increase expecially since most distant metastases occur without previous local recurrence? Surgery might mobilized cells which can some time settle and grow into meatstases.

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