World Cancer Research Day (WCRD) is a global and multidisciplinary initiative supported by 124 organisations and over 600,000 people. The initiative promotes the high value of cancer research to drive progress in cancer control and enhance the quality of life of patients through to and beyond survivorship.
Since 2021 and through to 2024, World Cancer Research Day focuses on improving equity in cancer research, providing greater access to research results for all, ensuring everyone has equal opportunities to engage in and benefit from research, and ultimately reducing disparities in cancer survival rates, as well as raise social awareness and engagement. The theme of this year’s campaign is: “Cancer Research Works: Driving Progress Together.”
Central to the philosophy of WCRD is the idea of partnerships and collaboration. If cancer knowns no borders, either geographical or professional, then research should not have them either. A collaborative research culture is therefore essential to allow more people to be diagnosed earlier and treated more effectively, with a better quality of life at every stage of the disease – and after.
Indeed, aligned with the World Cancer Day campaign theme for 2022-2024, World Cancer Research Day emphasises the need to address inequities in the access to cancer prevention, screening and early diagnosis across gender, region and resources.
For prevention, this means greater research into environment factors that cause cancer, facilitating the implementation of known prevention measures and promoting research into one-dose vaccines (e.g. vaccination against the human papillomavirus that causes most cervical cancers).
Improving the early detection of cancer for all populations means developing low-cost imaging tools and facilitating access to the latest screening tools – as well as providing the training to use them. There is also an opportunity to build on networks established during the pandemic to develop cancer screening programmes and enhance outreach to otherwise hard-to-reach populations.
Home-based diagnostic tools, such as self-collection for “do-it-yourself” cancer screening”, can be an effective way to increase early diagnosis, and greater research into home-based diagnostic tools must be encouraged. Other advances in detection, such as multi-tumour liquid biopsies and multi-cancer blood tests, also promise to improve early detection. Finally, the global community needs to accelerate access to diagnostic tools and promote projects that study diversity in early diagnosis so that all populations are represented.
UICC has always closely support research. For some 70 years, UICC has maintained and published the TNM Classification of Malignant Tumours, an internationally recognised standard for classifying how far a cancer has spread at diagnosis. The organisation also publishes an official journal, the International Journal of Cancer.
At the World Cancer Congress, held 17-20 October in Geneva, UICC is hosting a highlight session on “Redefining cancer research priorities in the emerging context of the COVID-19 pandemic.” Indeed, the pandemic caused widespread disruptions to prevention services, treatment, clinical trials and research, with important consequences on future diagnoses.
Bringing together panellists from King’s College London, the African Organisation for Research & Training in Cancer (AORTIC), the American University of Beirut Medical Center, Lebanon, and Queen’s University in Canada, this session will explore the long-term implications on research of the economic impacts of the pandemic.
WCRD encourages everyone to sign the World Cancer Research Declaration, organise and register an activity or event – however small –, follow and share on social media using campaign materials, or become a supporting organisation.