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World Cancer Day

Uniting together in the fight against cancer.

People celebrating World Cancer Day


4th of February marks World Cancer Day – an annual initiative led by the Union for International Cancer Control (UICC) that aims to raise awareness about cancer and how it might be prevented. Increased awareness, accurate information and knowledge can empower people to make informed choices about their health, recognise early warning signs, and seek professional help.

According to the World Cancer Day campaign, cancer is the second-leading cause of death worldwide with 10 million people dying from it each year. It's also estimated that almost at least one third of all deaths related to cancer could be prevented through routine screening, early detection and treatment.


Cancer is a disease which occurs when changes in a group of normal cells within the body lead to uncontrolled, abnormal growth forming a lump called a tumour. The cancerous cells can invade and destroy surrounding healthy tissue, including organs. There are more than 200 different types of cancer, and each is diagnosed and treated in a particular way. You can find information on specific type of cancer on Macmillan Cancer Support website.

In the UK, around 360,000 people are diagnosed with cancer every year.

The World Health Organisation estimates that between 30% and 50% of cancer deaths could be prevented by modifying or avoiding key risk factors and implementing existing evidence-based prevention strategies. This includes maintaining a healthy weight, exercising regularly, avoiding tobacco use, following a healthy diet, limiting alcohol use, getting vaccinated against hepatitis B and human papillomavirus (HPV), reducing exposure to ultraviolet radiation, avoiding urban air pollution and indoor smoke from household use of solid fuels, as well as preventing unnecessary ionizing radiation exposure.


Doctor during an appointment with cancer patient

Cancer screening is a test that looks for early signs of cancer in people without symptoms. It can help spot cancers at an early stage, when treatment is more likely to be successful. Remember that if you have symptoms of cancer, don’t wait for a screening invitation - tell your doctor as soon as possible.

There are three national cancer screening programmes in England:

The cancer screening programmes are different in some other parts of the UK. Find out more:

If you are eligible, please make every effort to have your screening test. Screening tests can detect a problem early, before you have any symptoms. Finding out about a cancer earlier can improve the likelihood of successful treatment.


A cancer diagnosis can affect various aspects of life putting people under mental, physical, and emotional pressure. Not only will people face uncertainty and fear over their health, but they will also be concerned about their families, relationships, finances, work, and livelihood. Employers, managers, supervisors, and HR professionals can play an important role in supporting people with cancer and their work life. Helping employees remain at or return to work when they feel able and ready, can make a big difference to their overall wellbeing and mental health.

The following tips can help you support your employees when they have been diagnosed, are going through treatment and living with cancer.

Approach the situation with sensitivity and respect

Not everyone feels comfortable telling others they are affected by cancer. Your employee may not want their colleagues to know about the situation and it’s important to respect that. However, if the employee wants to share this information with other members of staff, agree a communication plan with your employee early on, including what you will, and will not mention to others.

Communicate effectively

As soon as you become aware that an employee has been diagnosed with cancer, encourage them to have a confidential and supportive discussion. Show empathy and listen to your employee trying to understand their situation. It is fine to ask questions when they are sharing information with you. It is also important to keep in contact with the employee if they are on sick leave. Ask your employee how they would like to be contacted and make sure you keep in touch while they’re away. Remember to review this regularly as their situation and how they want to be contacted may change.

Be prepared to make adjustments

Remember that people living with cancer are protected against discrimination in the workplace under the Equality Act, which states that employers must make reasonable adjustments that will allow such employees to remain at or return to work. This may include things like flexible working hours, adapting their role and duties, taking extra breaks, etc. In order to comply with the current legislation, you may want to refer your employee to our Management Referral Service. Our Occupational Health Advisors will be able to provide a clinical opinion, suggest reasonable adjustments and devise a suitable return to work plan.

Provide your employees with an access to support services

Many people diagnosed with cancer may also experience various mental health issues, such as depression, stress, and anxiety both before, during or even after treatment. Therefore, it’s important that employees have an access to different services that can provide support with their mental wellbeing, such as counselling and EAP schemes. At Corazon Health we are able to organise both face to face and telephone counselling sessions for your employees. A wide range of topics can be addressed during counselling sessions, which are conducted by practitioners registered with the British Association for Counselling and Psychotherapy. We also offer an Employee Assistance Programme (EAP) that has a complete resource of wellbeing services including 24/7, 365 counselling, legal and information line, as well as medical information line where qualified counsellors, nurses and advisors are on-hand to offer support and guidance on a range of issues.

Advise employees where to seek additional help

There are some charities and organisations that offer additional help and guidance for anyone diagnosed with cancer. Provide your employees with the details of how they can contact these organisations for support, for instance:

You can also share with employees 'Work and cancer' booklet from Macmillan which explains how cancer and its treatments can affect work life and gives advice on managing work and cancer.

Manager speaking to employee about cancer and support they need

Employers should foster a compassionate culture and help their staff to remain in or return to work when they are affected by cancer. Work can provide a sense of self-worth and allow an individual to focus on their abilities, not just their illness. A job can restore normality, routine, financial stability and social contact. Also, organisations can benefit over the long term by retaining employee’s valuable skills, knowledge and experience, creating an inclusive work environment, and saving resources (financial cost and staff time) that would go into replacing and training a new employee.

You can find more information and guidance on how you can support employees affected by cancer in Macmillan’s 'Managing cancer in the workplace' booklet.




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