MD Anderson celebrates World Cancer Day and the global initiative to end cancer

The University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center is proud to support World Cancer Day, Feb. 4, to honor the international effort to eliminate the devastating disease.

An initiative of the Union for International Cancer Control (UICC), World Cancer Day has focused on a singular theme, “I Am and I Will,” for the past three years. The multi-year campaign was designed to inspire and empower individuals to take action toward prevention, detection and treatment of cancer for themselves and their loved ones. In light of the COVID-19 pandemic and the unprecedented impact it has had on the medical community, this year’s celebration aims to give voices and to say thank you to the nurses, doctors, researchers, volunteers, advocates and other caregivers in oncology from around the world, as well as government agencies.

“With the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, it is more important than ever to remind everyone that cancer does not stop and neither will we,” said Peter WT Pisters, M.D., president of MD Anderson. “Today – and every day – we are committed to uniting with health care professionals, patients, caregivers and all stakeholders to work collaboratively to end cancer.”

Cancer is the second leading cause of death worldwide, with 1 in 6 people dying due to the disease. Research has shown that new cancer diagnoses have declined during the pandemic, possibly due to delayed cancer screenings and other routine health care appointments. In an effort to urge patients to resume cancer screening and treatment during the pandemic, MD Anderson recently joined the National Comprehensive Cancer Network (NCCN), the American Cancer Society and 75 other cancer centers and organizations to sign an open letter. The joint statement emphasizes the importance of early detection and treatment in order to reduce the number of preventable cancer deaths.

“Delaying recommended cancer screenings may result in missed early stage cancers that are not caught until they are already more advanced, and potentially more difficult to treat. It is important to continue making cancer screening a priority,” said Welela Tereffe, M.D., chief medical executive at MD Anderson. “We have worked diligently to create a safe environment for our patients and for our employees. When coming to MD Anderson, patients can be confident they will be protected from COVID-19 while also managing their cancer risk.”

Since its inception 80 years ago, MD Anderson has set the standard in cancer prevention, research, education and patient care. Even during a pandemic, work continues to ensure important discoveries and breakthroughs are advanced for cancer patients. The institution remains committed to Making Cancer History®.

“Our mission at MD Anderson is to end cancer, but no one person or institution can achieve that goal alone,” Pisters said. “Our collective action as a global community – united by our shared commitment to our cancer patients and their families – is what will drive progress forward.”