World Cancer Day: History, Significance, Goal, Theme

By : Neha Dhyani

Updated : Feb 23, 2022, 6:04

World Cancer Day is celebrated on 4th February every year as a global initiative to generate widespread awareness about cancer and the inequities cancer patients face in health care. 

International Cancer Day was declared by the Union for International Cancer Control (UICC) on 4th February 2000, at the World Cancer Summit for the New Millenium in Paris. The then General Director of UNESCO, Koichiro Matsuura and French President Jacques Chirov signed the celebrated Charter of Paris Against Cancer as a formal recognition of the cause. 

The Goal of Celebrating World Cancer Day

Each year, over 900 activities take place across 100 countries for widespread awareness of the disease and reducing the prevalent stigma around it. Cancer awareness through education is a powerful tool of communication to thwart misinformation and untouchability against cancer patients by individuals and groups who are not aware of it.

The #NoHairSelfie movement was a powerful initiative where individuals shaved their hair off so cancer patients undergoing immunotherapy would not feel isolated from the rest of society. A recent initiative taken up by several cities is to set alight prominent landmarks with the colours orange and blue, a signification of International Cancer Day. 

World Cancer Day Themes




I Love My Healthy Active Childhood 


Cancer Can Be Prevented


Together Let's Do Something 


Cancer Myths- Get the Facts 


Debunk the Myths 


Not Beyond Us 


'We Can I Can'


'I Am and I Will'


Close the Care Gap

The Close the Care Gap (2022-2024) Campaign

The theme for 2022, "Close the Care Gap", establishes the gaps and inequities present in cancer treatments and vehemently works towards bridging this gap to save more lives through equality in the health care sector. This campaign covering three years is divided into:  

2022- Awareness of the Gap and Redressal:

The first year aims to understand and address the hard facts surrounding access to cancer health facilities: Widespread Inequality due to an individual's income, education, location, sexual orientation, ethnicity, and gender causes inadequate access to immunotherapies and other cancer health facilities. This gap between the privileged and underprivileged is difficult but easily surmountable. 

2023- Unity and Action Plan:

The post-awareness year will be all about joining pro-cancer individuals and essential stakeholders to unite under the pro-cancer umbrella. This year is about collaborating with strong leaders and advocates who can support funding for healthcare facilities and work towards securing the means to abridge the inequity gap. 

2024- Higher Level Engagement and Mobilisation:

After securing awareness and resources to close the gap, a global movement to prioritise cancer is on the agenda. With the assistance of leaders and lifelong cancer awareness advocates, we can draw strategies to counter inequalities and shake the foundations on which these disparities exist. This year will also focus on where, when, and how cancer patients can access health benefits through the umpteenth number of programmes and activities.

World Cancer Day is an important event worldwide as it plays a crucial role in sensitising people about the deadly disease.

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FAQs About World Cancer Day

  • Why do we celebrate World Cancer Day? 

World Cancer Day is celebrated to spread awareness throughout the world and educate individuals about the disease.

  • How can we celebrate World Cancer Day?

One can celebrate World Cancer Day through collectively mobilising initiatives by gathering communities and organisations in educational institutions, hospitals, marketplaces and places of worship and reminding them that we all have a role to play in saving cancer patients.

  • When was World Cancer Day started? 

The Union for International Cancer Control (UICC) declared International Cancer Day on 4th February 2000, at the World Cancer Summit for the New Millenium in Paris.