World Cancer Day 2021: Let’s beat cancer together


This year, 2021, is the third and final year of the World Cancer Day campaign ‘I Am and I Will’, which calls on us all to make an individual pledge to help reduce the global impact of cancer. Individuals are encouraged to share their personal stories with the world and consider how they can contribute to the collective effort of improving cancer outcomes. [1]

This year sees the addition of the 21 Days to Impact Challenge to the campaign. The challenge encourages participants to commit daily for 21 days (the length of time it is believed to take to create a positive habit) to one of five challenges in order to help them fulfil their ‘I Am and I Will’ commitments. The different challenges focus on five key areas: improving personal health, supporting someone with cancer, speaking up about cancer, learning about cancer, and joining the effort to eliminate cervical cancer. Those who sign up to do the challenge will receive daily emails from the organisation behind World Cancer Day offering support and inspiration. [2]

This year, more than any other, we are only too aware of how our actions affect those around us and that everyone has their part to play, no matter how big or small.

At Porterhouse, we are joining the initiative and using our medical communications expertise to highlight why the fight against cancer across the world remains so vital.

Cancer: The Facts
Almost 10 million lives are lost globally to cancer every year. This stark figure is more than the number of lives lost to HIV/AIDS, malaria and tuberculosis combined, and by 2030 could reach 13 million. A massive 70% of all cancer deaths occur in developing countries, where lack of awareness and poor access to resources preclude early diagnosis and successful management. [3]

Health inequalities
The Union for International Cancer Control (the organisation behind World Cancer Day) is working hard to highlight and reduce health inequalities so that every individual, no matter where they live in the world, has the ability to access cancer services [1].

In the past year, the coronavirus pandemic has exposed global health inequalities between developing and developed countries, but has also shone a spotlight on disparities within developed countries, including the UK. These differences relate to more than just COVID-19, as the pandemic has highlighted inequalities across numerous disease areas, including cancer.

Figures released in September 2020 reveal that there were 20,000 more cancer cases annually in socio-economic deprived areas compared with the general population. [4]

At least one-third of commonly occurring cancers are preventable by reducing behavioural and dietary risks. Smoking and obesity are two of the major cancer risk factors that remain prevalent in deprived populations, resulting in preventable cancers. In addition, poor awareness of cancer symptoms often results in late diagnosis, giving individuals potentially fewer treatment options and increasing the likelihood that they will die from the disease. [4] Public health initiatives and targeted education continue to be fundamental tools in combatting cancer and its burden both here in the UK and globally.

Reasons for optimism
Despite the many challenges involved in the fight against cancer and the significant impact of the pandemic on early cancer diagnosis and treatment, there are still many reasons to be optimistic. Innovative new treatments and therapy areas continue to be developed, such as harnessing the body’s own immune system to target tumours and artificial intelligence solutions for cancer diagnostics (for example, breast cancer mammography).[5]
Over the course of 2020, it became more apparent than ever that when we work together, we can achieve great things. So, this year on World Cancer Day on 4 February, join us in participating in the ‘I Am and I Will’ campaign in whatever way you can and be part of the global effort to beat cancer for good.

To learn more about the campaign and offer your support, please visit the official World Cancer Day website at

1. World Cancer Day: 4 February. I Am and I Will: Together, all of our actions matter. Available at: Accessed February 2021.

2. World Cancer Day: 4 February. 21 Days to Impact Challenge. Available at: Accessed February 2021.

3. World Cancer Day: 4 February. Why cancer? Available at: Accessed February 2021.

4. Cancer Research UK. UK health inequalities: 20,000 more cancer cases a year in the most deprived areas. Available at: Accessed February 2021.

5. Cancer Research UK. 2021: A bright future for cancer research. Available at: Accessed February 2021.

Suzanne BruntAuthor: Suzanne Brunt, Medical Writer, Porterhouse Medical