World Cancer Day – Take Action Now

4th February 2022

UKZN Extended Learning

– by Nkosingiphile Ntshangase

Cancer remains one of the greatest threats to our health and wellbeing, and according to the World Health Organization, is the leading cause of death. We probably all know at least one person who has faced cancer directly or had a close call. World Cancer Day is commemorated on the 4th of February, to raise awareness and understanding of all aspects of cancer. The theme this year, “Close the Care Gap” is a call to action to raise awareness about the inconsistencies in cancer treatment around the world. To achieve real equity, individuals must understand the kind of obstacles that inhibit progressiveness, such as gender, socioeconomic status, economic exclusion, forced displacement, and the ostracisation of certain groups. 

According to, the development of cancer occurs when a group of cells within the body undergoes changes that lead to uncontrolled growth. This growth results in a lump called a tumour. A tumour may grow and spread into normal tissue, or to other parts of the body through the bloodstream and lymphatic system. It may also affect the digestive, nervous, and circulatory systems or release hormones that affect bodily function if left untreated. There are three types of cancerous tumours: benign, malignant, and precancerous. Benign tumours are not cancerous, seldom pose a threat to life, and their growth tends to be fairly slow. They do not spread to other parts of the body, and they typically contain cells that are quite similar to normal or healthy cells. Compared to benign tumours, malignant tumours grow quickly and have the ability to devour adjacent tissue. Precancerous cells are abnormal cells that may arise in the colon, the skin, and many other parts of the body.

In many cases, cancer is caused by a combination of different factors, and similarly, most illnesses are caused by exposure to multiple factors. Here are some signs and symptoms to look out for:

– Unusual lumps or swelling

– Persistent coughing, breathlessness, or difficulty swallowing

– Changes in bowel habit

– Unexpected bleeding in bodily fluids

– New mole or changes to a mole

– Complications with urinating

– Unexplained weight loss

– Unusual breast changes

– Prolonged appetite loss

It is imperative to acknowledge the medical front-line workers that have been treating individuals battling cancer during a pandemic to ensure that health systems are not disrupted in any way. You can participate in World Cancer Day by spreading verified information to your family and friends. In addition, you can take the appropriate measures to lead a healthier lifestyle to strengthen your immune system. Through a collaborative effort, we can help prevent pre-mature cancer-related deaths worldwide.

For more information about World Cancer Day, please click here.