Celebrating the positives this World Cancer Day

World Cancer Day | 4 February 2021 

In our current world of uncertainty, here at Check4Cancer we thought we would focus on some of the positives this World Cancer Day.

Cancer survival in the UK has doubled in the last 40 years¹

Significant investment in cancer research has led to huge leaps forward in the ways we diagnose and treat cancer. This research is transforming the lives of people with cancer, not only helping to double the survival rates in just 40 years, but also developing treatments with fewer side effects and new techniques to make surgery less invasive. We’d like to thank everyone working tirelessly in healthcare and research to improve the lives of those with cancer.

Developments in screening and diagnostics have also undoubtedly had a significant impact on this increase in cancer survival rates, with new, more accurate testing methodologies being developed and national screening programmes helping to diagnose cancer earlier. We must build on this momentum, developing more effective screening methodologies and encouraging more people to attend screening appointments.

Half of people diagnosed with cancer in England and Wales survive their disease for ten years or more¹

A cancer diagnosis still comes with a huge amount of fear for the future but with ever continuing research progress, the outlook for cancer patients is improving year on year. Concerns over delays to diagnosis and treatment during the pandemic remain, so keeping an eye out for any symptoms or unusual changes to your body and seeing your GP or cancer specialist as soon as possible is essential. There is also concern over the availability of research funding, with so much financial support unsurprisingly going towards overcoming the pandemic and charities struggling with reduced donations and fundraising capabilities. Cancer research and treatment must continue and at Check4Cancer we will continue to lobby the government to ensure cancer patients are not overlooked.

Optimistically, much of the ongoing research into COVID treatments is likely to have a positive impact on cancer research. Some of the technologies used in the vaccines have the potential to be developed for cancer treatment and the significant investment and rapid progress will filter through to accelerate cancer research. With restricted access to face to face consultations with your GP or specialist, there has been great progress in digital healthcare and the use of artificial intelligence to aid diagnosis. Greater awareness of the importance of science and healthcare in everyday life is also likely to lead to more people pursuing careers in this area and a wealth of new talent emerging to drive research.

Early diagnosis could save your life

For most cancers, survival is much higher if the cancer is detected as early as possible². An early diagnosis means the cancer is less developed and has not yet spread to other parts of the body. This usually means the treatment required is less invasive with fewer side effects and can lead to complete remission. Screening plays a vital role in early diagnosis as it means cancers can be found at the earliest stages, before any symptoms are observed. In cervical cancer for example, if diagnosed at an early stage, up to 90% of women aged under 40 will survive. This statistic is even more positive for those attending regular HPV screening for whom cervical cancer is almost 100% preventable. 

Whilst there is lots of positive news around cancer, the hard work is not yet done. We all know of someone suffering right now and hundreds of people are still dying every day in the UK. This World Cancer Day, the message is clear: Together we can create a future without cancer. But we need to continue the progress we’ve started. Research, investment and awareness remain essential in beating this disease. The time to act is now.

If you’re concerned about the symptoms of cancer, our diagnostics services are still available, or you can find out more about the screening services we provide for those without symptoms.

References 

¹  https://www.cancerresearchuk.org/health-professional/cancer-statistics/survival#:~:text=Half%20(50%25)%20of%20people,40%20years%20in%20the%20UK

²  https://www.bmj.com/content/364/bmj.l408