World Cancer Day wish from a Mayo Clinic oncologist

Estimated reading time: 3 minutes

By Deb Balzer

Cancer affects people worldwide, regardless of age, gender or socioeconomic status. That's why Mayo Clinic joins the Union for International Cancer Control and other global organizations on World Cancer Day, Feb. 4, to close the gap and reduce inequities in cancer care. 

Many marginalized groups and disadvantaged populations worldwide often have limited access to preventive measures, early detection and treatment, which leads to higher mortality rates. And they are often not represented in research and clinical trials. 

"My hope is we ultimately, and relatively soon, get to a point where all of our research and clinical investigations are inclusive of all cancer patients so that the product that comes out of the research can be applied and can be beneficial to all patients," says Lionel Kankeu Fonkoua, M.D., a Mayo Clinic Comprehensive Cancer Center oncologist and researcher.

"I hope that we get to a point where all cancer patients, including the marginalized, the minority populations that are not very well represented in our research and clinical trial efforts, can benefit from the research that we're doing," he says.

Watch Dr. Kankeu Founkoua talk about his wish for World Cancer Day in this video:

For the safety of its patients, staff and visitors, Mayo Clinic has strict masking policies in place. Anyone shown without a mask was either recorded prior to COVID-19 or recorded in a nonpatient care area where other safety protocols were followed.

Ongoing research is crucial to better understand cancer biology and to develop and advance new treatment options. Clinical trials are essential to help test new treatments and therapies, which can lead to many advances in treatments. 

Cancer can be a complex subject to discuss. By raising awareness, World Cancer Day hopes to help break the stigma around cancer and encourage early detection through screening. 

Though World Cancer Day is a global effort, there are individual ways to join the effort, including reducing your own cancer risk.

Five ways to help reduce your risk of cancer:

1. Get screened. 

Regular cancer screenings can detect abnormal cancer cells. Early detection can save lives. Ask your doctor what screenings are best for you based on your risk factors.

2. Maintain a healthy lifestyle.

Get regular exercise and eat a healthy diet. Regular exercise is linked to a lower risk of cancer. Eat a diet rich in fruits, vegetables, whole grains and lean proteins. 

3. Limit sun exposure.

Harmful ultraviolet (UV) rays from the sun can increase your risk of skin cancer.

4. Don't smoke.

If you do smoke tobacco, find a way to quit. Tobacco use is linked to several types of cancer. 

5. Ask about the HPV vaccine.

It's recommended for boys and girls between 9 and 26 to prevent HPV infection. HPV is the leading cause of cervical cancer, and can also cause oral, anal and genital cancer. 

For adults 27–45 who are not vaccinated against HPV, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends talking with your health care team about the risk of new HPV infections and the possible benefits of vaccination.

Learn more

Learn more about cancer and cancer clinical trials at Mayo Clinic Comprehensive Cancer Center.

Join the Cancer Support Group on Mayo Clinic Connect.

A version of this article was originally published on the Mayo Clinic News Network.