Each year, February 4th is observed as World Cancer Day. The focus of this observation is on how organizations and individuals can play their role in reducing the global burden of cancer. So this year, and through 2018, the theme of World Cancer Day is “We can. I can.”
Every year more than 8 million people die from cancer worldwide. Cancer can be caused by genetic factors, lifestyle factors such as tobacco use, diet, and physical activity, certain types of infections, and exposure to radiation and different types of chemicals. Healthy choices that can prevent cancer deaths include avoiding smoking, staying at a healthy weight, eating right, keeping active, and getting recommended screening tests.
Blood tests performed to diagnose cancer include
- Complete blood count (CBC) that measures the amount of various types of blood cells in a sample of blood
- Blood protein testing that examines various proteins in the blood (electrophoresis) to detect certain abnormal immune system proteins (found in people with multiple myeloma)
- Tumor marker tests to detect cancer activity in the body. The presence of tumor markers alone does not provide a definitive diagnosis as they are also produced by healthy cells.
For most forms of cancer, a biopsy – a procedure to obtain a sample of suspicious cells for testing – is usually necessary to make a definitive diagnosis. CT scans are also used to detect cancer.
According to recent research, a liquid biopsy or blood test could help screen cancer as early as checking cholesterol. The current practice involves removing tumor samples surgically or with biopsy needles, examining the tissue under microscopes, and analyzing it genetically to make a diagnosis to guide treatment. The new liquid biopsy technique, which relies on an ordinary blood draw, could reduce reliance on CT scans which pose risk of radiation and also spare the pain and expense associated with tissue tumor biopsies.
There are many ways organizations, communities and individuals can get involved in the fight against cancer. Visit http://www.cancer.org/involved/index to see how you can make a difference this World Cancer Day.