World Cancer Day: highlighting physical activity in the global fight against cancer

Live 2017


Worldwide cases of cancer predicted to reach 21.7 million by 2030

Friday February 3, 2017 – World Cancer Day: Montreal, Canada On World Cancer Day tomorrow, February 4, millions are urged to get active to help combat the world’s most deadly disease. Under the banner ‘We can. I can.’ the day will encourage people to be more active – in every sense – in the fight against a disease that, in less than two decades, will directly affect up to 21.7 million[1] people per year.

To help spread this message, World Cancer Day is harnessing the power of sport by encouraging sports fans, organisations and personalities to use their voice and reach through the ‘Support through Sport’ initiative.

Dr. Cary Adams, Chief Executive Officer, Union for International Cancer Control (UICC): “This World Cancer Day we want to inspire individuals to play an active role in the fight against cancer, by being physically active. Around a third of all cancers are preventable through lifestyle changes, such as increasing physical activity and leading a less sedentary lifestyle. A large number of people also find exercise to be of great benefit to their wellbeing either during or after treatment. The ‘We can. I can.’ campaign is in its second year and we hope to build on the success of last year and spread the message further than ever.”

Aside from prevention, a growing body of evidence[2] shows that physical activity significantly helps cancer patients, not only to manage the life-altering side-effects of treatment such as fatigue, depression and heart damage, but also in reducing the risk of the disease worsening or recurring. Research shows, for example, that a breast cancer patient’s risk of recurrence and of dying from the disease can be reduced by around 40 per cent by doing recommended levels of physical activity[3].

McGill’s commitment to fight cancer

Across McGill’s various cancer units, concerted efforts are being made to make breakthroughs on the entire spectrum of cancer from prevention to treatment and rehabilitation to end-of-life care and improved quality of life. “’Innovations in diagnosis and treatment are happening so rapidly that we can begin to imagine a world free of cancer-related deaths,” says Dr. Gerald Batist, Director of the Segal Cancer Centre, McGill University. Dr. Morag Park, Director of the Goodman Cancer Research Cancer Centre agrees. “Discoveries from fundamental research and new technologies are transforming how we diagnose and treat cancer,” she adds.

With a commitment to providing top quality education and training, McGill’s health professionals, cancer research scientists, students and fellows across the University’s cancer sites are constantly pushing the boundaries to bring new and better solutions to the fore to the benefit of individuals in Quebec, Canada and the world, employing effective, evidence-based strategies.

“We are winning the fight against cancer,” says Dr. Armen Aprikian, Director, Cedars Cancer Centre and Cancer Care Mission, McGill University Health Centre. “McGill’s entire oncology community of hundreds of healthcare professionals and researchers is strongly engaged in producing the best scientific discoveries that will improve cancer prevention and control here and beyond our borders. Fostering excellence in cancer research is McGill’s strategic priority. We are also training the next generation of oncologists and cancer scientists”, says Dr. Eduardo Franco, Chairman of McGill’s Gerald Bronfman Department of Oncology.

Join the cause

Just as everyone can play a crucial role in maintaining their own health and wellbeing – by being active, limiting alcohol consumption, avoiding tobacco, and moderating red and processed meat consumption – everyone can also contribute to the success of World Cancer Day: every post, share or tweet adds to the noise and raises the profile of cancer in people’s minds, in the world’s media and on the global health and development agenda. For more information visit:

[1] GLOBOCAN 2012 (IARC), Cancer Incidence, Mortality and Prevalence Worldwide, Lyon, France, International Agency for Research on Cancer, available at:[Accessed 24/01/2017]

[2] Macmillan Cancer Support (2011) The importance of physical activity for people living with and beyond cancer: A concise evidence review, available at: [Accessed 12/01/2017], see pages 2, 6 and 7

[3] Macmillan Cancer Support (2011) The importance of physical activity for people living with and beyond cancer: A concise evidence review, available at: [Accessed 12/01/2017], see page 8

Media contact:

Jason Clement

Communications Officer, Faculty of Medicine,

McGill University

February 3, 2017

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