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Cancer Screening & Early Detection: A Guide to World Cancer Day

By Dr. Nitin Leekha in Cancer Care / Oncology

Feb 27 , 2024 | 2 min read

Cancer is one of the primary causes of morbidity and mortality globally, with millions of lives affected each year. According to the World Health Organization (WHO), cancer is responsible for approximately 10 million deaths annually.

World Cancer Day is observed annually on February 4th and is a global initiative dedicated to raising awareness, promoting prevention, and fostering early detection and treatment of cancer

The Power of Early Detection

Early detection of cancer presents a formidable challenge globally. The lack of awareness about symptoms, cultural stigmas, and limited access to healthcare services lead to delayed diagnoses. Economic barriers, coupled with fear and anxiety, often discourage timely screenings. Overcoming these challenges necessitates a concerted effort to improve public awareness, reduce economic disparities, and enhance accessibility to early detection measures worldwide. This year's theme, "Close the Care Gap," spotlights global inequities in cancer care. It addresses issues like limited healthcare access, financial constraints, stigma, and lack of awareness.

Early detection results in improved treatment success rates and presenting patients with less aggressive and more effective treatment options. Beyond the profound impact on individual health, early detection contributes to reduced treatment costs and an enhanced quality of life. 

Available Screening Tests

Understanding the relevance of age and risk factors, individuals are encouraged to undergo screening tests for various types of cancer.

  • Breast cancer screening includes mammography, ultrasound (USG), and MRI for women aged 40 and older, with additional recommendations for those with risk factors. 
  • Cervical cancer screenings involve Pap smears and Human Papillomavirus (HPV) testing for women aged 21-65, with frequency based on age. 
  • Colon and rectal cancer screenings encompass colonoscopies and Fecal Occult Blood Tests (FOBT) starting at age 50. 
  • Prostate cancer screenings through the Prostate-Specific Antigen (PSA) test are recommended for men aged 50 and older. 
  • Lung cancer screenings involve low-dose CT scans for adults aged 55-80 with a history of heavy smoking or recent quitters.

Also, Read - Transforming Cancer Care: Precision Medicine Leads the Way on World Cancer Day

Empowering Through Self-Examinations and Awareness

In addition to clinical screenings, World Cancer Day encourages individuals to become proactive participants in their health by practising self-examination.

  • Breast self-exams are a crucial tool for women, aiding in the prompt detection of any changes. 
  • Men can perform regular testicular self-exams to identify unusual lumps or changes in the testicles. 
  • Regular skin checks help monitor changes in moles, freckles, or new lesions, contributing to the early identification of skin cancer.

On World Cancer Day, let us collectively cultivate a culture of awareness and support. By embracing early detection strategies, we can contribute to a future where the impact of cancer diminishes, and lives thrive with health, hope, and resilience.