World Cancer Day: A Single Day Is Never Enough

At Celgene, bringing to market innovative cancer therapies is a priority through the entire year.

Spreading knowledge about cancer is important. Feb. 4, 2014 marks World Cancer Day, an initiative led by the Geneva-based Union for International Cancer Control (UICC). This year’s movement aims to bust myths about cancer by educating people about cancer in general and dispelling fallacies about the disease.

As a supporter of UICC, Celgene applauds their efforts to “Debunk the Myths” around cancer, including the need to talk about cancer and encouraging everyone to get involved.

Every year 12.7 million people around the world learn that they have cancer, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Worldwide approximately 7.6 million people died from some form of cancer in 2008. Although cancer is a global epidemic that affects people of all ages, spreading awareness and improving treatment options was not included in the United Nations Millennium Development Goals that member states agreed to achieve by 2015.

It’s sometimes assumed that cancer is a disease that affects older people only in developed countries.  The World Health Organization (WHO), however, estimates that approximately 70 percent of cancer deaths in 2008 occurred in lower- and middle-income countries. By 2030, developing countries will bear the majority of the global burden of the estimated 21.4 million new cases of cancer annually. At that point, the global cost of cancer care will cost an estimated $458 billion per year.

The good news is that today more cancers can either be cured or treated effectively, potentially adding years to patients’ lifespans. Since 1990, cancer mortality has dropped by more than 22 percent, and the amount of people surviving the disease and living longer has more than doubled. New innovative medicines developed by pharmaceutical and biotechnology companies have helped save 43 million life-years and have contributed $4.7 trillion in additional income by virtue of patients living longer and contributing to the economy since 1990. In addition, cancer survivorship has doubled since 1990—from 6 million to 13 million.

The work to cure all types of cancer, however, is far from over. So that’s why at Celgene spreading awareness, developing partnerships with multiple organizations, researching and bringing to market innovative cancer therapies and helping patients get access to the resources and medicines they need are priorities not just on World Cancer Day, but through the entire year. “A single day is never enough,” Joel Beetsch, vice president of Patient Advocacy at Celgene, said. “How do you extend that day into 364 more?”

When Beetsch sits in a room with some of his external Advocacy partners, he often thinks about the patients that they represent. “We try to be our patients’ partners,” he said. “What is it that we can do to affect the lives of one patient—or thousands of patients?”

One way Celgene is helping to support patients is through its Innovation Impact Awards program. The program recognizes effective, innovative and successful initiatives and achievements of U.S.-based not-for-profit organizations addressing the needs of patients, caregivers and healthcare providers in today’s challenging healthcare environment.  The Innovation Impact Awards aim to recognize the significant contributions of patient and professional organizations to patient treatment and care, but also broaden the impact of the award-winning programs by helping sustain, expand and replicate those innovative initiatives.

As cancer continues to be a global health epidemic, Celgene will continue its commitment to the development of new resources, programs and treatments that may help to improve the lives of those diagnosed with cancer worldwide.