World Cancer Day


World Cancer Day this year focuses on dispelling the myths that surround cancer.  The four myths being focused on globally are:

 Media Release Friday 1 February, 2013


World Cancer Day - February 4 2013
Cancer- did you know?

World Cancer Day this year focuses on dispelling the myths that surround cancer .  The four myths being focused on globally are:

Cancer is a death sentence

Cancer is my fate

Cancer is just a health issue

Cancer is a disease of the wealthy, elderly and developed countries

The impact on the national economy is substantial. The cost of all registered cancers calculated in 2008/09 prices, was $511 million (and that excluded screening programmes and supported care).

For many, particularly in Pacific Island and Maori communities, one of the reasons people do not access medical care is fear. The word cqncer still carries a huge emotional load and for many people this alone is enough to prevent them seeking early medical advice for symptoms.

Cancer is not the death sentence it used to be 50 or even 20 years ago. The total mortality rate for all cancers has been slowly but steadily decreasing with an overall 16% drop between 1999 and 2009.

Cancer is slowly becoming a chronic health condition that people live with. This will present new challenges as we grapple with how best to support people living with cancer, and pay for ongoing treatments

Around a third of all cancers are preventable. Only a small percentage of cancers are truly inherited or familial.

Reduction in the use of tobacco is starting to show gains in the declining incidence rates of many cancers (E.g. lung cancer in men).

Better treatment of infectious diseases is resulting in lower cancer rates. For example stomach cancer rates have dropped by 26% between 1999 and 2009 as the relationship between a common bacterial infection (helicobacter) and stomach cancer was understood and treatment improved.

Cancer – did you know?

Cancer is not a death sentence

(Many cancers that were once considered a death sentence can now be treated effectively)


It’s not true most breast cancers are hereditary

(In most cases of breast cancer there is no family link - only 5-10% are due to hereditary factors)


It’s not true that women don’t get bowel cancer

(New Zealand women have the number one death rate in OECD for bowel cancer)


It’s not true that regular cervical smear/pap tests will detect all gynaecological cancers

(The test only detects cervical changes. There are currently no screening tests for ovarian, endometrial (uterine), vaginal, or vulval cancers)

It’s not true leukaemia is only a childhood cancer

(While it is the most common childhood cancer those mostly affected by leukaemia are adults -90%)


It’s not true that darker skin is a protection again melanoma

(The incidence is low but darker skinned people can get melanoma and often present with thicker lesions)


It’s not true that only old men get prostate cancer

(Around 20% of men diagnosed with prostate cancer are under the age of 60 years)


World Cancer Day 2013 (Monday, 4 February) is an opportunity for cancer organisations around the world to dispel damaging myths and misconceptions about cancer. This year the international day is themed ‘Cancer – did you know?’ 


In New Zealand the campaign has been adopted by CANGO, a group of eight prominent non-government cancer organisations. “World Cancer Day is an opportunity for us to provide factual information to improve general knowledge of cancer and dismiss misconceptions,” said chair of the group, Pru Etcheverry (Chief Executive ofLeukaemia & Blood Cancer New Zealand).


“Some of the myths can be frightening, especially, to someone newly diagnosed. They can also be harmful, for example ‘cancer is my fate.’ The reality is people who may take this approach often suffer unnecessarily when they have access to effective and quality cancer services in New Zealand that enable early diagnosis and appropriate treatment and care.” 



For further information contact:

Lynne St.Clair-Chapman

National Communications Manager

Cancer Society of New Zealand

Mobile 027 444 4150 or (04) 494 7195


Cancer Society of New Zealand/Hospice New Zealand/Breast Cancer Foundation/Leukaemia & Blood Cancer New Zealand /Prostate Cancer Foundation/Gynaecological Cancer Foundation/Melanoma Foundation/Beat Bowel Cancer Aotearoa