World Cancer Day flag flying on the Mont Blanc Bridge in Geneva, Switzerland, where UICC is headquarted

The importance of closing the care gap on World Cancer Day: Jeff Dunn

11 January 2023
President, UICC and Chief of Mission and Head of Research, Prostate Cancer Foundation of Australia

Prof. Jeff Dunn AO

President of UICC

Drawing his personal journey with cancer, Prof. Jeff Dunn AO, President of UICC, urges everyone on World Cancer Day to commit to action and close the care gap, so that all people living with cancer receive the best possible quality of life.

On behalf of UICC, I offer everyone my personal best wishes for 2023. I am hoping the year will be full of happiness and good health for each and every one of us.

This month of January is important to me for two reasons.

First up, it's been just over a month anniversary since my stem cell transplant. And I can tell you here today that I'm in remission. My rehabilitation and my surveillance are on track. I'm feeling good and my future is bright. I was blessed to receive many messages of encouragement and support, and this means a great deal to me, and it has made a difference. 

The other reason it is important is that it is only a few weeks till World Cancer Day when we yet again shine a light on that important work of closing the gap, talking about equity and making sure that no matter where you live or who you are around the world, you enjoy the same access to cancer early detection, diagnosis, treatment and care.

Closing the care gap remains a priority for us. In this first week of 2023, there have been an additional 300,000 people newly diagnosed with cancer and some 160,000 people have died. In the next month leading up to World Cancer Day and move into February, there will be an additional 1.5 million people diagnosed with cancer around the world and, sadly, around 780,000 people will die from this disease. Of these 780,000, more than half, 65%, will come from the least developed regions in the world.

We know that more than a third of cancers can be prevented. The evidence also tells us that another third of cancers can be cured if detected early and treated effectively. This means that between early January and World Cancer Day on 4 February, for example, we could save 260,000 lives if we just implemented the evidence we currently have about early detection and treatment of cancer in a fair, equitable, accessible way.

Now, this might seem like an unrealistic goal or a game of numbers, but we must strive for our mission, a world free from cancer. And if the last few years has taught us anything, it's taught us that the actions of one person can have an impact on many when it comes to closing the gap.

We ask you to be that one person. So as we head into World Cancer Day, commit to taking action. Commit to rising to the challenge. Commit to being that one person. And please remember the little things can count. I know this from my own recent experience. So whether it's volunteering at a children's cancer center, whether it's making a donation, whether it's advocating for improved survivorship care to ensure that all people living with cancer receive the best possible quality of life, whether it's organising an event. No matter what it is, it does make a difference.

Join with us at UICC to help us close the cancer care gap so that all patients receive the care and the hope that each and every one of us would wish for. 

Prof. Jeff Dunn AO is President of the Union for International Cancer Control and the Chief of Mission and Head of Research at the Prostate Cancer Foundation of Australia. Jeff is also Professor of Social and Behavioural Science and Chair of Cancer Survivorship at the University of Southern Queensland. He is a Board Member and Chair of the Audit and Risk Committee for the West Moreton Hospital and Health Service. His work in cancer control spans 30 years, in which time he has dedicated his career to the development of strategies that underpin cancer survival and improve awareness of the disease with a special focus on the social and behavioural aspects of cancer and has over 200 publications, including peer-reviewed manuscripts, chapters, books and reports. In 2014 Jeff was appointed an Officer in the Order of Australia for distinguished service to medical administration through leadership of cancer control organisations and promotion of innovative and integrated cancer care programmes.

Last update: 
Wednesday 11 January 2023