A Call to Action for Cancer Awareness on World Cancer Day- Global Solidarity and Support | Max Hospital

Uniting in Fight Against Cancer: Call to Action for Global Solidarity and Support

By Dr. Pankaj Kumar Pande in Cancer Care / Oncology

Feb 28 , 2024 | 9 min read

Cancer continues to be a global challenge, claiming over 10 million lives annually and ranking as the second leading cause of death worldwide. Its impact is vast, affecting individuals across all regions, transcending income, and geographic barriers. The battle against cancer is relentless, underscored by the disease's complexity and its roots in genetics, lifestyle choices, and environmental factors.

Despite significant advancements in prevention, early detection, and treatment, access to these life-saving measures remains uneven, leading to marked disparities in cancer outcomes across and within countries. This ongoing struggle against cancer not only affects those directly battling the disease but also casts a long shadow over families, friends, and communities, contributing to emotional, economic, and societal turmoil.

The need for concerted action and global solidarity in the fight against cancer has never been more critical. As we explore the multifaceted nature of cancer, its widespread impact, and the strides being made in cancer care, we also highlight the importance of equitable access to treatment and the power of community support. This narrative invites readers to understand the profound effects of cancer and encourages active participation in advocating for and supporting those affected by this pervasive disease.

Join us in this crucial conversation, as we aim to bridge the gap in cancer care, promote life-saving interventions, and offer support to those navigating the complexities of this ongoing battle. Together, we can make a difference in the lives of millions facing cancer today and in the future.

Facts and Figures of Cancer in India

Despite improved awareness and medical facilities, India still lags in cancer survival rates compared to most countries:

  • Survival rates for stomach cancer: 19% in India versus 25-30% globally.
  • Colon cancer survival: 37% in India versus 50-59% elsewhere.
  • Liver cancer: 4% survival in India versus 10-20% elsewhere.
  • Breast and prostate cancer: 60% survival in India versus 80% in advanced nations.

Mortality rates 

  • Globally, cancer mortality rates are declining, but in developing nations like India, they remain high, accounting for 70% of cancer-related deaths.
  • 1 in 5 cancer-related deaths occurs in India.
  • 70% of cancer deaths in India happen within the first year due to late detection and limited access to quality healthcare.
  • 80% of patients consult doctors at advanced stages with slim recovery chances.
  • In India, 71% of cancer deaths occur between ages 30-69, compared to higher rates in developed countries for those above 50.

Children and adolescents

  • In India, 15% of cancer patients are children and adolescents, contrasting with the global average of 0.5%.

Common Types of Cancer Worldwide

While specific types of cancer can vary by region and demographics, some remain dominant players on the global stage. Here's a breakdown of the most common cancers worldwide:

Cancer stands as a prominent global cause of death, claiming nearly 10 million lives in 2020 (1).

Leading the tally of new cancer cases in 2020 were:

  • Breast cancer (2.26 million cases)
  • Lung cancer (2.21 million cases)
  • Colon and rectum cancer (1.93 million cases)
  • Prostate cancer (1.41 million cases)
  • Non-melanoma skin cancer (1.20 million cases)
  • Stomach cancer (1.09 million cases)

The primary contributors to cancer-related deaths in 2020 included:

  • Lung cancer (1.80 million deaths)
  • Colon and rectum cancer (916,000 deaths)
  • Liver cancer (830,000 deaths)
  • Stomach cancer (769,000 deaths)
  • Breast cancer (685,000 deaths)

It's important to remember:

  • These figures represent global trends and may differ by region, age, and other factors.
  • Non-melanoma skin cancer is the most common cancer overall but excluded due to its high curability and low mortality.
  • Cancer research and prevention efforts continue to evolve, offering hope for reducing these burdens in the future.

Theme for World Cancer Day 2024 

The World Cancer Day 2024 theme, "Close the Care Gap," sheds light on the disparities in cancer care worldwide. Individuals in specific regions, socioeconomic brackets, and marginalised communities encounter significant obstacles when it comes to accessing quality cancer prevention, diagnosis, and treatment. These challenges encompass:

  • Limited access to healthcare facilities: Many areas globally lack sufficient and reachable healthcare facilities, particularly in rural regions. This hampers individuals' ability to undergo cancer screening or receive prompt treatment.
  • Financial limitations: The exorbitant cost of cancer treatment, even in developed nations, can deter individuals from seeking necessary care, despite being aware of available options.
  • Stigma and discrimination: Cancer is often linked with shame and fear, discouraging people from seeking assistance. This stigma is particularly pronounced in certain cultures or communities.
  • Lack of awareness: Insufficient knowledge about cancer symptoms and risks can impede early diagnosis and treatment.

Importance of World Cancer Day

International Cancer Day holds significance for several compelling reasons:

  • Global impact: Cancer stands as a leading global cause of death, claiming approximately 10 million lives each year. This stark reality underscores the urgent need for concerted global efforts to combat this pervasive disease.
  • Inequitable burden: Cancer's impact is not uniform across the world. Low- and middle-income countries grapple with substantial obstacles in accessing crucial cancer prevention, diagnosis, and treatment services. Addressing these disparities is vital for achieving fairness in health outcomes.
  • Dynamic landscape: Ongoing advancements in cancer research continually unveil new understandings of the disease's mechanisms, leading to the creation of innovative treatment options. Cancer awareness day serves as a platform to spotlight these breakthroughs and advocate for their accessibility to all patients.
  • Unified effort: International Cancer Day fosters a sense of unity and shared purpose in the global fight against cancer. It brings together researchers, the best oncologists in Delhi and other locations, policymakers, advocacy groups, and those affected by the disease to collaborate and drive progress collectively.
  • Inspiration and hope: Despite the challenges, International Cancer Day delivers a message of hope and inspiration. It celebrates the resilience of cancer survivors, acknowledges the dedication of the best oncologists in India, and underscores the transformative impact of collective action in making a positive difference.

Treatment of Cancer

Treatment of cancer typically involves a combination of therapies tailored to the individual's specific type and stage of cancer. Here are some common treatment modalities:

  • Surgery: Surgical removal of cancerous tumours or tissues is often the primary treatment for localised cancers.
  • Chemotherapy: The use of drugs to kill cancer cells or inhibit their growth. Chemotherapy may be administered orally or intravenously and can be used alone or in combination with other treatments.
  • Radiation Therapy: High-energy radiation is used to target and destroy cancer cells. It can be delivered externally or internally, depending on the type and location of the cancer.
  • Immunotherapy: Immunotherapy boosts the body's immune system to fight cancer. It includes monoclonal antibodies, immune checkpoint inhibitors, cytokines, and cancer vaccines.
  • Targeted Therapy: Drugs or other substances target specific molecules involved in cancer growth. Targeted therapy is often less harmful to normal cells than chemotherapy or radiation therapy.
  • Hormone Therapy: Hormone Therapy involves blocking or suppressing the hormones that fuel certain cancers, such as breast or prostate cancer.

Curability of Cancer

Here are key points regarding the curability of cancer:

  • Early detection: Cancer is more curable when detected early through regular screenings and check-ups.
  • Advancements in treatment: Advances in medical technology and treatment options, including surgery, chemotherapy, radiation therapy, immunotherapy, targeted therapy, and precision medicine, have significantly improved survival rates.
  • Multidisciplinary approach: Employing a multidisciplinary team of specialists ensures comprehensive care tailored to each patient's needs, optimising treatment outcomes.
  • Precision medicine: Tailoring treatments based on the individual's genetic makeup and specific characteristics of the cancer leads to more effective and targeted therapies.
  • Immunotherapy: Immunotherapy harnesses the body's immune system to fight cancer cells, offering promising results in various types of cancer.
  • Clinical trials: Participation in clinical trials provides access to cutting-edge treatments and therapies that may improve curability and survival rates.
  • Lifestyle factors: Adopting a healthy lifestyle, including regular exercise, balanced nutrition, maintaining a healthy weight, and avoiding tobacco and excessive alcohol consumption, can reduce the risk of developing cancer and improve treatment outcomes.
  • Supportive care: Providing comprehensive supportive care, including pain management, psychological support, and palliative care, enhances the quality of life for cancer patients and may improve treatment effectiveness.

Prevention of Cancer 

Cancer prevention entails adopting lifestyle choices and behaviours aimed at reducing the risk of developing cancer. While it's acknowledged that not all cancers can be prevented, adhering to certain tips may help lower the risk of specific types of cancer. It's crucial to recognize that individual factors, including genetics and age, also contribute to cancer risk. Here are some general guidelines for cancer prevention:

Maintain a healthy diet 

  • Consume a diverse range of fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and legumes.
  • Restrict the intake of red and processed meats.
  • Opt for lean protein sources.
  • Minimise the consumption of sugary drinks and high-calorie, low-nutrient foods.

Engage in regular physical activity 

  • Strive for a minimum of 150 minutes of moderate-intensity exercise or 75 minutes of vigorous-intensity exercise each week.
  • Incorporate strength training exercises at least twice a week.

Sustain a healthy weight 

Given that obesity is a recognized risk factor for various types of cancer, maintaining a healthy weight is crucial.

Tobacco avoidance 

  • Refrain from smoking and limit exposure to second-hand smoke.
  • Quitting smoking is highly effective in reducing cancer risk.

Limit alcohol consumption 

Restrict alcohol intake to one drink per day for women and up to two drinks per day for men.

Protect against sun exposure 

Use sunscreen with a high SPF, don protective clothing, and minimise excessive sun exposure to mitigate the risk of skin cancer.


Receive vaccinations against infections known to increase cancer risk, such as human papillomavirus (HPV) and hepatitis B.

Regular health check-ups 

Attend routine health check-ups and screenings to facilitate early detection of certain cancers, including mammograms, Pap smears, and colonoscopies.

Environmental awareness 

Be mindful of potential environmental carcinogens, such as pollutants and toxins, and take measures to minimise exposure.

Genetic counselling 

If there is a family history of cancer, consider genetic counselling to evaluate your risk and explore possible preventive measures.

Tips and Tricks to Manage Cancer Conditions

Managing cancer conditions can be challenging, and it often requires a comprehensive approach involving medical treatment, lifestyle adjustments, and emotional support. Here are some tips and tricks to help manage cancer conditions:

Follow your treatment plan 

Adhere to your prescribed treatment plan, including medications, chemotherapy, radiation therapy, or surgery. Communicate openly with your cancer hospital team about any concerns or side effects.

Manage side effects 

Work closely with your healthcare team to manage and alleviate treatment-related side effects. This may involve medications, lifestyle changes, or complementary therapies.

Mind-body techniques 

Practice stress-reducing techniques such as meditation, yoga, or deep breathing exercises to promote relaxation and mental well-being.

Pain management

Work with your healthcare team to address any pain or discomfort you may be experiencing. They can adjust medications or recommend other pain management strategies.


The ongoing battle against cancer underscores the imperative for collective determination and action to address the multifaceted challenges it presents. Max's multidisciplinary approach, which integrates expertise from oncology, radiology, immunology, genetics, psychology, and nutrition, exemplifies the resolve we need to embody. This moment in time calls for reflection on both the progress achieved and the hurdles that lie ahead. In our unified display of commitment, we must renew our dedication to the fight against cancer. Each decision we make, from personal health choices to engaging in community efforts and advocating at the global level, contributes significantly to this collective endeavor. 

United in our stand against cancer, we aspire to a future where the toll of this disease is significantly reduced, and access to prevention, early detection, and effective treatments becomes a reality for all. Let our shared commitment inspire actions, big and small, whether it's through educating ourselves and others, supporting vital research, or getting involved in community health initiatives. By embracing collaborative strategies like those championed by Max, we can navigate towards a future less burdened by cancer, driven by hope and active participation.