World Cancer Day, observed annually on February 4, raises awareness about cancer worldwide. For me, it is a time to look back on how far we’ve come in lowering the number of cancer cases and deaths. Today, it’s just as important to set our sights on a future where every person has the right information, makes healthy choices that prevent cancer before it starts, has the right screening at the right time, and gets good cancer treatment no matter where they live.
In the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s (CDC) Division of Cancer Prevention and Control, we are working every day to reduce cancer’s footprint. Taking on cancer is like climbing a mountain or going to the moon—you need resources, direction, and information. You also need a great team working to prevent cancer cases. Our resources are data and our team includes everyone from technicians in clinics and labs recording case information to state cancer registrars putting the information together.
These data help us make a map of cancer in this country and show us the way to go. But not only high-level scientists and researchers get to see the road to a future with less cancer. Anyone should be able to easily understand the effect of cancer in the United States. Tools like CDC’s Data Visualizations show and explain cancer information with charts and graphs.
Sharing data on all levels will help all of us take action.
CDC’s information on cancer prevention can inspire action by showing you real, useful things you can do to protect your health and your family’s health. Our nationwide action campaigns, like Bring Your Brave, Screen for Life, Inside Knowledge, and skin cancer, use both data and personal stories to show how important it is to know your family health history, understand cancer symptoms, and get the right cancer screening at the right time for you.
Our funded national programs reach those in need, helping to complete the circle of prevention. If you’re a woman who doesn’t have insurance or reliable health care access, CDC’s National Breast and Cervical Cancer Early Detection Program can help you get timely screening so breast and cervical cancer can be prevented or found early and treated. Our Colorectal Cancer Control Program helps men and women get screened for this preventable cancer by working with clinics and hospitals and health care systems.
I invite you to check out our cancer prevention resources. And don’t stop there—share them and start a conversation with friends and family.
Many cancer cases can be prevented. If everyone is inspired to take action on cancer, together we can save lives.
Lisa Richardson, MD, MPH, is the director of CDC’s Division of Cancer Prevention and Control.
This article was originally published on January 31, 2018, by CDC. It is republished with permission.