World Cancer Day: “Together it is possible”
Together it is possible" was the theme for World Cancer Day 2012. Cancer kills millions of people every year and up to a third of the cases can be prevented by a healthy lifestyle, according to statistics released by the World Health
Organization (WHO). By the latest data, cancer is the leading cause of death worldwide, accounting for 7.6 million deaths (around 13% of all deaths).
With the goal to illustrate youth unity against cancer and to support those who are fighting this disease, students from the Youth Palace in Tbilisi and members in Georgia’s NGO community marched on the Freedom Square February 4 to celebrate and bring attention to World Cancer Day.
Through the walk, participants distributed informational materials about cancer prevention, as having awareness about cancer’s presenting symptoms can be life-saving. The marchers aimed to enlighten the public that diagnosing and treating cancer even a few days earlier can be the difference between life and death.
On the same day, Georgian and American medical professionals, cancer survivors, advocacy experts and NGO leaders, UNFPA and USAID representatives gathered at the National Screening Center in Tbilisi for a roundtable discussion on the recent advances in breast cancer early detection and survivorship in Georgia. In an effort to support the increased access of the population to quality Reproductive Health (RH) services, in 2006, the UNFPA Georgia office launched the Reproductive Tract Cancers Prevention and Early Detection Pilot Project in Tbilisi in partnership with the Tbilisi Municipality. In two years into the project, free screening and diagnosis of oncological diseases were provided to more than 10,000 people. Based on the analysis of the data and accumulated experience, at the beginning of 2008, the project has been redesigned to focus on breast and cervical cancer screening for targeted populations in Tbilisi. This project, funded by Tbilisi Municipality and co-funded by UNFPA is the best example of cooperation of UN, Government and academia, resulted in improved RH status of women in Tbilisi. In 2011, the Georgian government expanded this project in all regions of Georgia.
“Early detection and prevention reduce mortality rates,” Tamar Khomasuridze, the United Nations Population Fund of Georgia’s Assistant Representative told Georgia Today, “The UNFPA Georgia Country Office is proud of its partnership with the government and academia in fighting cervical and breast cancer in Georgia. Our screening program, co-funded by the Tbilisi Municipality, has already demonstrated its impact on the status on women’s health by timely diagnosis of pre-cancers and the down-staging of breast and cervical cancer” Khomasuridze noted.
This innovative screening project with nationwide coverage is one of the first of its kind among the countries of Eastern Europe and Central Asia that aims to increase the detection of reproductive system cancers at their early stages, in order to reduce the morbidity and early mortality of women caused by these diseases.
According to WHO, cervical cancer is the second most common form of this disease among women worldwide, with 500,000 new cases being diagnosed yearly. 70% of cases are caused by types 16 and 18 and these can largely be prevented by vaccinating girls aged between 9 and 13.
Approximately 35,000 women are covered annually in Tbilisi by the breast and cervical cancer screening program, resulting in a dramatic increase of cancer detection at the early stages, thus saving the lives of women, according to UNFPA.
By the latest data of WHO, cancer is a leading cause of death worldwide, accounting for 7.6 million deaths (around 13% of all deaths). Deaths from cancer worldwide are projected to continue rising, with an estimated 13.1 million deaths in 2030.
Breast and cervical cancers were the main causes of mortality of women of reproductive age, early detection and prevention are the most effective measures to fight the mortality, casued by these diseases.
By Tamar Khurtsia