World Cancer Day 2020: Progress Is Possible

February 4 is World Cancer Day.

January 27, 2020

February 4 is World Cancer Day.

Facts at-a-Glance

  • Cancer is the rapid creation of abnormal cells that grow beyond their usual boundaries, and which can then invade adjoining parts of the body and spread to other organs. This process is referred to as metastasis. Metastases are the major cause of death from cancer.1
  • The World Health Organization projects that 70% of the world’s cancer deaths are in low- and middle-income countries. Only one in five of those markets have access to needed data to make changes to cancer policy.1
  • Among working people ages 50 – 69, cancer is one of the top five health issues in all world regions.2
  • Globally, about one in six deaths is due to cancer.1
  • One-quarter of cancer cases in emerging markets is caused by viral infections (e.g., hepatitis B and HPV).1
  • Health-related productivity losses cost U.S. employers $225.8 billion annually.3
  • The total estimated lost productivity cost to employers for all full-time employed caregivers is approximately $33.6 billion.4
  • Although its exact causes are complex, increased incidence of cancer is related to increases in overweight, obesity, certain viral infections, alcohol and tobacco use, pollution, radiation and physical inactivity.1

What Employers Can Do

  • Offer programs that include cancer education and screening;
  • Promote employees use of sunscreen;
  • Ensure that health plans and leave/disability programs have an adequate approach to cancer care;
  • Support employees by providing programs and benefits that help them achieve and maintain a healthy body weight;
  • Encourage employees to do at least 30 minutes of regular, moderate-intensity activity on most days;
  • Promote the employee assistance program (EAP) for use by employees who are in the role of caregiver to address caregiving needs and emotional support; and
  • Assist employees who wish to quit using tobacco.

Employer Examples

GlaxoSmithKline (GSK) focuses on preventive measures for many disease, including cancer, through its Partnership for Prevention (P4P) program. P4P provides employees and their families access to 40 preventive health services at low or no cost. Those services include cancer screenings and smoking cessation.5

Cigna partnered with the University of Maryland Center for Health Equity and Cigna Foundation to conduct education and outreach for cancer screening in black barbershops and beauty salons. The Health Advocates In-Reach and Research (HAIR) community-based program trains barbers and beauticians on how to educate their clientele about colorectal cancer and the importance of getting preventive screenings.5

Qatar Airways spreads the word about World Cancer Day through its pilots, crew members and on-the-ground staff via social media. The company also conducted a Think Pink campaign for breast cancer.6

In Indonesia, Shangri-La Hotels had colleagues visit a foundation providing support to underprivileged children diagnosed with cancer. In the Maldives and China, Shangri-La partnered with health care professionals to offer educational workshops for staff.6 Colleagues in Mongolia fundraised for local cancer organizations by selling health calendars.6

Ticketmaster partnered with local cancer charities in 20 markets to give fans an opportunity to donate when purchasing tickets. Staff fundraised for the charities as well.6

Additional Business Group on Health Resources

External Resources

World Health Observances

Visit the United Nations website for the full listing of UN-sponsored observances.

More Topics

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  • 1 | World Health Organization.Cancer Fact Sheet.September 2018. Accessed January 16, 2020.
  • 2 | Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation.2017 Global Burden of Disease.November 2018.[MF1]/. Accessed January 16, 2020.
  • 3 | Stewart WF, Ricci JA, Chee E, Morganstein D. Lost productive work time costs from health conditions in the United States:Rresults from the American productivity audit. J Occup Environ Med. 2003;45(12):1234-1246.
  • 4 | Business Group on Health.Cancer Continuum of Care.December 2013.
  • 5 | Gatling, J. Achieving optimal well-being by reducing disparities and promoting health equity. Business Group on Health. March 2018[TM2].
  • 6 | Union for International Cancer Control. Business and workplace toolkit. 2020. Accessed January 15, 2020.
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