World Cancer Day was established on 4th February 2000 at the World Summit Against Cancer for the New Millennium in Paris. As the name suggests, this World Summit aims to promote research, prevent cancer, improve patient services, and raise awareness in the community to make progress against cancer. These values have translated into an ‘Annual Meeting’, now more than 20 years old, and are sponsored by International Health Agencies.
Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, however, World Cancer Day has taken on a different value over the past two years; a large number of people could not access the screening, many appointments were postponed that led to delays in diagnoses, and in some cases, resulted in the resurgence of cancer due to delays, as well as an increase in the number of patients felt they have been abandoned by the health system.
Outpatient departments were closed, which led to a decrease in diagnoses of cancer, not allowing us enough time to intervene and take advantage of early diagnosis. Early detection plays an important role in curing and treating this disease. The number of cancer cases, unfortunately, increased during the months of the pandemic. This stalemate situation was discussed during World Cancer Day and to control the situation the Recovery Plan was introduced.
During World Cancer Day 2022, which took place virtually over the internet, to establish a Recovery Plan to fill the aforementioned delays in assisting the patients and to minimize the inequalities in healthcare by raising awareness through governments, institutions, associations, and ordinary citizens; thereby saving many human lives. The theme of the day was “Close the Care Gap”; closing the gap in assistance between rich and poor countries.
During the webinars and virtual meetings, it was discussed that if the recovery plan is not in place then there can be a risk of “a wave of serious cancer cases.” Today there is a dire need for researchers and doctors who prefer clinical reasoning based on scientific rationale, and forever close the parenthesis of the medicines that are detached and far from the reality of the patients, and above all, those who are identified as capable health managers and as facilitators of oncology treatments and therapeutic pathways.
This critical collaboration between oncologists, pathologists, and molecular biologists, and the objectives of World Cancer Day are essential to finding solutions and providing effective healthcare for the fight against cancer.
“Equity in access to cancer care” is the warning stated by the experts to which I join together with an appeal for the will to resolve the gap in access to treatment for all diseases since this is at the crux of humanity and our commitment.
Professor Antonio Giordano is the Founder and Director of Sbarro Health Research Organization at Temple University's College of Science and Technology.