MD Anderson supports World Cancer Day through dedication to eliminate cancer

The University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center honors World Cancer Day, Feb. 4, as the campaign celebrates 20 years of bringing awareness and action to the global fight to end cancer. This year’s theme, “I am and I will,” calls upon individuals to make a commitment to take action by learning about cancer risks and participating in cancer prevention.

World Cancer Day is organized by The Union for International Cancer Control (UICC), which comprises more than 1,100 organizations in more than 170 countries. Together, these research institutions, ministries of health, cancer societies, policy makers and patient groups work to unite the international cancer community’s efforts to reduce the global cancer burden.

“MD Anderson is proud to stand with the world’s leaders in cancer control to bring awareness to a disease that impacts so many,” said Peter WT Pisters, M.D., president of MD Anderson. “Through compassionate patient care, innovative research, evidence-based prevention programs and educational efforts, we are committed to Making Cancer History.”

Cancer is the second leading cause of death globally, responsible for an estimated 9.6 million deaths in 2018, or about 1 in 6 deaths, according to the World Health Organization.

Prioritizing cancer prevention and education

Today, the UICC released the results of an international survey on cancer perceptions, which found that 61% of people surveyed have been affected by cancer in some way and 69% say they have taken steps to reduce their risk of cancer.    

Cancer prevention and education are key aspects of MD Anderson’s mission to eradicate the disease. Following a healthy lifestyle by exercising, avoiding tobacco, eating a healthy diet, protecting your skin from the sun, getting cancer prevention vaccines, maintaining a healthy weight, eliminating or limiting alcohol, getting cancer screening exams and talking to your doctor about family history can greatly reduce your cancer risk.

“The ultimate ambition of an institution like MD Anderson is cancer prevention,” said Ernest Hawk, M.D., vice president and division head of Cancer Prevention and Population Sciences. “We will always need to treat cancer, but, progressively, prevention will become our first and best strategy to end cancer.”

MD Anderson’s Cancer Prevention and Population Sciences division is home to one of the largest and most developed cancer prevention programs and one the oldest and most successful cancer prevention research training programs in the nation. This division works to advance cancer prevention through comprehensive research, patient care, education and cancer control programs.

MD Anderson fights cancer globally

MD Anderson Cancer Network® advances the institution’s mission to eliminate cancer by collaborating with local hospitals and health systems in Texas, the nation and the world to improve the quality and accessibility of cancer care and research.

MD Anderson researcher Kathleen Schmeler, M.D., associate professor of Gynecologic Oncology and Reproductive Medicine, is dedicated to sharing advances in cancer care and prevention with medically underserved regions outside of the United States.

“Our ultimate goal is that no patient dies of a preventable disease,” said Schmeler. “I feel a responsibility to take the knowledge and skills we have at MD Anderson and to share them with people around the world to save lives.”

MD Anderson’s Project ECHO initiative uses the ECHO (Extension for Community Healthcare Outcomes) telementoring model to connect healthcare providers from rural and underserved areas around the world with specialists from MD Anderson to share best practices in cancer prevention, screening, treatment and survivorship.

“We know 50% of cancers can be prevented if we deploy the science and the insights that we have now,” said Pisters. “On World Cancer Day – and every day – we must work together as an international community to bring an end to cancer.”