International Childhood Cancer Day: 15 February 2018

International Childhood Cancer Day is held annually on 15 February to raise awareness about childhood cancer and to express support for children and adolescents with cancer, survivors and their families. The Day highlights the need for early identification of cancer, improved access to diagnosis and treatment and universal access to palliative care for all children. Though most cancer in children and adolescents cannot be prevented, cancer in children is generally treatable. Early diagnosis of cancer is important to provide children with the greatest likelihood of successful treatment. Relatively small investments can make a large impact on the life of a child with cancer.

World Cancer Day 2018

A doctor examines an X-ray snapshot of breast cancer, Columbia
WHO/PAHO /Carlos Gaggero

Nearly every family in the world is touched by cancer, which is now responsible for almost one in six deaths globally. On World Cancer Day (4 February) WHO highlights that cancer no longer needs to be a death sentence, as the capacity exists to reduce its burden and improve the survival and quality of life of people living with the disease.

Feature story

A girl, accompanied by her mother, receives counselling on HPV vaccination and prevention of cervical cancer in Seoul.
Korea Centers for Disease Control & Prevention

2 February 2018 – The Republic of Korea is demonstrating how it is possible, through investment and expanded universal health coverage, to reduce illness and death through cervical cancer prevention and control, also a key focus of World Cancer Day on 4 February.

World's health ministers renew commitment to cancer prevention and control

WHO/Chris Black

On 30th May 2017, the 70th World Health Assembly adopted a draft resolution on cancer prevention and control with 18 sponsors and more than 40 Member States and 11 NGOs speaking in support of the resolution. During its deliberation, there was broad consensus that cancer is a growing public health concern which requires increased attention, prioritization and funding.

Guide to cancer early diagnosis

WHO has developed a Guide to cancer early diagnosis, to help policy-makers and programme managers address barriers to and delays in cancer care. By doing so, access to timely cancer diagnosis and treatment can be improved for all.

fact buffet

8.8 millionpeople worldwide died from cancer in 2015. That is nearly 1 in 6 of all global deaths.

Global Health Observatory

US$1.16 trillionis the estimated total annual economic cost of cancer in 2010.

Key facts about cancer

30-50%of cancers could be prevented.

Read the fact file about cancer

What is cancer?

Cancer is a generic term for a large group of diseases characterized by the growth of abnormal cells beyond their usual boundaries that can then invade adjoining parts of the body and/or spread to other organs. Other common terms used are malignant tumours and neoplasms. Cancer can affect almost any part of the body and has many anatomic and molecular subtypes that each require specific management strategies.

Cancer is the second leading cause of death globally and accounted for 8.8 million death in 2015. Lung, prostate, colorectal, stomach and liver cancer are the most common types of cancer in men, while breast, colorectal, lung, cervix and stomach cancer are the most common among women.

Cancer Prevention

According to current evidence, between 30% and 50% of cancer deaths could be prevented by modifying or avoiding key risk factors, including avoiding tobacco products, reducing alcohol consumption, maintaining a healthy body weight, exercising regularly and addressing infection-related risk factors.

Cancer Management

To reduce the significant disability, suffering and deaths caused by cancer worldwide, effective and affordable programmes in early diagnosis, screening, treatment, and palliative care are needed. Treatment options may include surgery, medicines and/or radiotherapy; treatment planning should be guided by tumour type, stage and available resources and informed by the preference of the patient. Palliative care, which focuses on improving the quality of life of patients and their families, is an essential components of cancer care. Accelerated action is needed to improve cancer care, achieve global targets to reduce deaths from cancer and provide health care for all consistent with universal health coverage.

About the cancer control programme

The key mission of WHO’s work in cancer control is to promote national cancer control policies, plans and programmes that are harmonized with strategies for noncommunicable diseases and other related health concerns. Our core functions are to set norms and standards for cancer control including the development of evidence-based prevention, early diagnosis, screening, treatment and palliative care programmes as well as to promote monitoring and evaluation through registries and research that are tailored to the local disease burden and available resources.