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By Jamie Elizabeth Rosen, Editor, Real World Health Care  |  Feb 4, 2014

World Cancer Day 2014: What’s Working in Prevention, Diagnosis, and Treatment?

Today is World Cancer Day, an annual awareness day that aims to help save millions of people globally from preventable deaths each year. Americans continue to make advances against many forms of cancer, although progress still remains slow against other forms of cancer, such as pancreatic and glioblastoma, that urgently require more research.

In the US, death rates from cancer have decreased by 20% since the early 1990s. This means that four hundred additional lives are saved from cancer every day, according to the American Cancer Society (ACS). Last year, ACS created a great video explaining why we are making great strides against some forms of cancer.

If you or someone you know has been diagnosed with cancer, there is reason for hope. There are more than 13 million Americans alive today who have survived cancer, and that number continues to grow. A plethora of resources are available for people navigating cancer prevention, diagnosis, and treatment, as well as for those who want to advance solutions, and research continues to help more people survive.

Prevention

Due to decades of investment in medical research, many of the causes of cancer as well as ways to protect ourselves are well-documented. According to the ACS, more than half of cancer deaths can now be prevented. ACS offers resources such as quizzes, calculators and reminders – as well as a Healthy Living newsletter and Powerful Choices podcast – to provide people with tips to improve health and reduce cancer risk. These resources provide details about healthy lifestyle choices like avoiding exposure to tobacco, excess sun, and radiation; eating healthy; and regularly engaging in physical activities.

Diagnosis

Early detection of cancer saves lives. ACS provides concrete cancer screening guidelines for check-ups at all stages of life. Promising diagnostic technologies for different cancer types are currently under development. Initiatives such as ‘Are You Dense Advocacy’ are working to improve use of existing diagnostic tools, in this case by empowering women for whom mammograms may be less effective.

Treatment

If you or someone you know is diagnosed with cancer, ACS offers a helpful guide on how to find and pay for treatment. Insurance companies can also help identify treatment providers. You can also find a support group. The American Association for Cancer Research offers information about finding cancer support groups as well as a directory of patient support and advocacy groups organized by type of cancer or group focus.

For cancer patients who wish to consider advancing medicine by participating in clinical trials, NIH’s National Cancer Institute provides resources for people interested in participating in clinical trials and ACS offers a Clinical Trials Matching Service.

For those who have medical insurance but have trouble affording treatment, charities such as the HealthWell Foundation have programs to help people pay their part of the cost. HealthWell has awarded over $140 million in assistance to more than 70,000 individuals living with cancer.

How you can help

  • The World Cancer Day website provides a list of creative ways you can help advance the fight against cancer as well as an advocacy toolkit to make the most of your efforts. They also provide a social media guide to help you spread the word.
  • Donate to a research organization or help patients directly today by donating to help open the Emergency Cancer Relief Fund so patients can focus on their fight to get better and not fight with medical bills.

Learn more

Interested in learning more about cancer? Check out these cancer-specific news sources:

  • Expert Voices provides expert commentary on Timely insight on cancer topics from the experts of ACS.
  • CURE magazine is a resource “combining science with humanity” to make cancer understandable.
  • The National Cancer Institute offers regular research updates in their news center and the CDC’s Division of Cancer Prevention and Control posts cancer news to their online newsroom.
  • Healthline offers a list of their 13 Best Cancer Blogs of 2013.

Have you or a loved one struggled with cancer? Have you found resources that you would recommend? Tell your story or post resources in the Comments section.

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