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World Cancer Day highlights issues involving cancer around the world

World Cancer Day was February 4, this year, and is an initiative of the Union for International Cancer Control (UICC). One focus this year is debunking myths surrounding cancer. The organization wants to improve general knowledge of cancer and dispel misconceptions.

The UICC is working to highlight that cancers like mesothelioma are not merely a problem in developed countries, and that cancer causes more deaths than HIV/AIDS, tuberculosis and malaria worldwide.

Cancer has a disproportionate impact on poor countries for two reasons. Poor countries have a less developed healthcare infrastructure and frequently fewer doctors and facilities overall. This means there is less chance of cancer being diagnosed early, when treatment options are the broadest and most effective.

Its secondary impact is created by having a large percentage of the population afflicted with various forms of cancer that are untreated or inadequately treated. This population is either unable to work, or only able to work on a reduced basis, meaning they produce little meaningful economic activity for the nation's economy.

Another example of the cancer threat is the presence of dangerous industries, which because of environmental regulations in the developed world have now gone overseas. Many cases of mesothelioma in the U.S. were the result of exposure workers received in shipyards and shipbuilding industry.

Ship breaking, where a old ship is cut up for scrap, has relocated to India and Bangladesh. It often takes place on a beach, where workers labor in unregulated conditions, exposed to asbestos, lead paint and other hazardous chemicals.

Because mesothelioma has a long incubation period, cancer cases from these workers may not develop the deadly disease for decades. World Cancer Day is a reminder that mesothelioma and all other cancers remains a worldwide threat, and health and working conditions need to be improved for all workers.

Source:, "World Cancer Day Brings a Global Perspective to the Fight Against Mesothelioma," Tim Povtak, February 4, 2013

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