World Cancer Day: Together we can reduce the impact of cancer

Created in 2000, World Cancer Day is a positive movement designed to unite people in a global effort to reduce the impact of cancer. Celebrated annually on February 4, the goal is to raise awareness, improve education and inspire action to help reduce preventable cancer deaths and improve access to care and life-saving cancer treatments for everyone, no matter who they are or where they live.

This year’s theme for World Cancer Day is, “I Am and I Will,” which is all about you and your commitment to positive actions that can help reduce the number of premature deaths from cancer and noncommunicable diseases by 2030.

What is cancer?

Cancer is actually more than just one disease. In fact, there are more than 100 diseases that fall under the cancer umbrella.1

The short answer is that cancer cells are worn out or damaged cells that, instead of dying, keep on growing and making new cells that crowd out normal cells2 — forming a lump called a tumor. All cancers form a tumor, except leukemia, which is a cancer of the blood.3 While all cancers are similar in some ways, they are different in the ways that they grow, spread and are treated.

Possible causes of cancer include genetics, lifestyle habits, exposure to carcinogens and other environmental factors. In some cases, there is no known cause.4

You can make a difference!

It’s not comfortable to think about cancer, but the reality is that many of us and our families are affected by it. Cancer is the second-leading cause of death worldwide.3 World Cancer Day is about finding our own ways — big or small — to  impact the trajectory of the disease worldwide. Knowing that we can help save lives by changing our own habits, engaging in conversation and supporting others is empowering.

Here are some ways to get involved and honor World Cancer Day on February 4:

  • At least one-third of common cancers are preventable4. Find out what steps you can take to help reduce your risk. This includes:
    • Wearing sunscreen
    • Living smoke-free
    • Getting screened for breast and colorectal cancers
    • Eating a healthy diet that includes plenty of fruits and vegetables
    • Getting regular physical activity
    • Limiting the amount of alcohol you drink
  • Teach your children and grandchildren good habits so that making healthy choices becomes second nature to them.
  • Raise your voice in support of those living with cancer. There are many ways to become an advocate and raise awareness about cancer and related issues. You can post or share articles on social media, open up conversations with friends and family, attend local events for World Cancer Day or write to your local politicians asking them to show their commitment.
  • If you are making charitable donations this year, consider a national cancer charity like the Canadian Cancer Society, the American Cancer Society or donate to a local hospital that specializes in cancer care and treatment.
  • Help to change public policy by improving or changing laws and regulations that affect people with cancer. In the United States visit the American Society of Clinical Oncology (ASCO), in Canada visit The Canadian Cancer Society for more information.
  • If you are a Foresters member, you can apply for a Community Grant to put together cancer care kits for patients undergoing chemotherapy. These kits can be donated to local hospitals (just make sure they are willing and able to accept them), and might include items such as:
    • Warm socks
    • Hard candies
    • Sensitivity toothpaste
    • Hand sanitizer
    • A notebook and pen
    • Sleep mask
    • Hand cream
    • Lip balm
    • Ginger tea bags
    • Puzzle books

World Cancer Day is just one day, but what really matters is what we do all year long – and Foresters can help. If there are needs in your community related to cancer, members can apply for financial grants to support local organizations or charities doing work to support those living with the disease. Foresters members, visit for more information on Foresters Community Grants and other community volunteer opportunities.

To find out more about World Cancer Day and to download advocacy guides, action toolkits, and posters you can customize to help you take action on February 4 and all year long, visit World Cancer Day.



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419592 CAN/US (02/21)

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