World Cancer Day – Because life is for living

Chief Medical Officer
03 February 2017
Woman smiling

The fight against cancer is changing and one thing we know is a cancer diagnosis is no longer a life sentence. Over the last few decades, investment in prevention techniques, diagnosis and treatment methods have meant more people than ever are surviving cancer. Some of the most common types of cancer, such as breast, have seen the biggest shift in survival rates. In the UK for example, half of those diagnosed with cancer will go on to survive, which is double the rate of 40 years ago.1 In Germany, five-year survival for bowel cancer patients, another common form of cancer, has risen to well over 60 percent, up from 50 percent in the 1990s.

This is good news. However, cancer remains a big health issue. Cancer Research UK’s latest report, which has just been released, revealed that over a period of 20 years, cancer rates will increase by around half a percent for men and by around three percent for women. There are 14 million new cases a year, which means even though more people will survive the illness, cancer is a heavy burden on many people, touching the lives of those who have been diagnosed, but also the family and friends who support them.
World Cancer Day marks a time in which we can reflect on what more we can do to tackle this condition and better support those affected by it. Prevention and support are two areas where we can all make a personal difference.

Here are some figures that always strike my attention: 30 percent of cancer cases could be prevented by adopting healthier lifestyles, and even 10 years after treatment 54 percent of cancer survivors still suffer from at least one psychological issue.4,5 Evidence also suggests that obesity is linked to breast cancer, which in many cases can be avoided.So, there are two clear messages for me that I’d like to share on World Cancer Day: firstly, just by eating better, exercising regularly and stopping smoking we can considerably reduce the risk of developing cancer; and secondly, let’s talk to and support those around us who have been diagnosed by cancer.
It’s clear these simple actions will make a difference.

At Bupa, we want to be a champion in health and care for our customers by delivering outstanding personalised care and help them navigate the complex world of health and care. For cancer patients and their families this means supporting them in their journey from prevention, through treatment, to recovery.
Some of the initiatives that we’re running around the world include the UCCO, in Spain, a cancer care and counselling service. Counselling is given to patients and their family during the process, where family members can be involved to put their mind at ease. Support to patients range from treatment, nutritional, psychological and exercise advice to suit their cancer care. Families are also offered counselling service to help support their loved ones.

In the UK, through our cancer promise we aim to bring our customers the best treatment, support and information available. Our oncology team aim to offer customers understanding, advice and vital support through difficult decisions. We also provide access to a named specialist nurse or adviser who will help manage the care throughout their journey.

At Bupa, we believe life is for living, so we will continue to support customers at every step of the way. Our latest commercial from the UK called “For living” is a good example to share on World Cancer Day. Life is for living, and at Bupa we want to support our customers to make that happen.  

1Cancer Research UK
2DKTK – German Cancer Consortium. Research CONCORD-2
3World Health Organization
4World Health Organization
5Carlson L, et al. High levels of untreated distress and fatigue in cancer patients. British Journal of Cancer. 2004
6National Cancer Institute
Paul Zollinger-Read
Chief Medical Officer
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