Editorial: Behaviour change key in battle against cancer

Today, February 4, is World Cancer Day, an occasion to reflect on the devastation caused by cancer, show support to survivors and those fighting for their lives due to the disease, and raise our collective voice in bid to protect ourselves against the disease.

This year’s event coincides with the launch of a three-year global campaign against cancer, dubbed ‘I Am And I Will’, a three-year commitment to increase action against cancer.

It’s yet another opportunity to call on key actors, such as governments and the industry, to scale up efforts to fight the disease.

Most importantly, it’s a moment to remind each citizen of the world that we can collectively bring about a big difference if each committed to critical preventive measures.

Figures paint a rather bleak picture.

For instance, it is estimated that 9.6 million people die from cancer globally every year, making the disease the second-leading cause of death worldwide. Yet, experts contend that as many as 3.7 million lives could be saved each year by implementing resource appropriate strategies for prevention, early detection and treatment, concluding that at least one third of common cancers are preventable.

To reverse the trend, it is critical that each individual undertakes specific measures, such as eating healthy, exercising regularly, and embracing routine checkup.

In Rwanda, in particular, the situation is not any better.

According to official figures, over 10,000 new cases of cancer were registered in 2018 alone, while over 7000 cancer-related deaths were recorded in the same year.

In view of this, there is need to embrace existing measures to reverse the trend, both individually and collectively.

Cancer is deadly but early detection increases chances of survival and it is, therefore, incumbent upon each one of us to embrace healthy behavioural change.