World Cancer Day. The single-most important umbrella initiative under which the whole world joins hands in the prolonged fight against the global epidemic of cancer. On 4th of February each year, we come together to raise awareness about the importance of educating the masses to prevent millions of deaths from this disease. The day also aims to capture the attention of worldwide governments and urge them to improve various protective and regulatory measures.
In 2023, the theme for World Cancer Day is ‘Close the Care Gap’, which focuses on understanding the problems of global cancer care and taking appropriate action to ameliorate them. Moreover, this theme is part of a 3-year campaign that has been going on since 2022 and will last till 2024. With the continued support of key members, partners, and donors around the globe, World Cancer Day has become part and parcel of our calendar and daily life.
Bridging the Gap
When all of us have equal means and methods available at our disposal to safeguard against a disease, it is termed as health equity. In such a stage, every global citizen has an equal opportunity to prevent, detect, and obtain proper- cancer treatment. Various international organisations are striving to even these scales and make medical treatment affordable for all.
Beyond that, we can also be cautious about the triggers and causes of different types of cancer and choose a healthier lifestyle. Avoiding alcohol and tobacco, maintaining a healthy weight, and food habits are some. Moreover, several screening tests can detect the disease early, thus ensuring that treatment is more effective.
However, many people do not always have equitable access to medical or financial resources. This can stem from a myriad of social, economic, and even geographical conditions, apart from differences in medical advancements from country to country. Other factors that determine cancer’s effect on us and are beyond our control include age, ethnicity, gender, sexual orientation, physical aspects, etc.
The Corona Connect
Since 2020, we have been observing World Cancer Day, when the world was simultaneously battling the COVID-19 pandemic. People afflicted by the disease or those with a higher susceptibility were not only falling sick more easily but also suffering from more severe symptoms due to viral attacks. At the same time, cancer patients and even those recovering from the disease were developing symptoms of COVID-19 more easily, often suffering complications and needing urgent ICU admission.
Even today, despite the pandemic’s apparent waning effects, the various mutations of the virus continue to wreak havoc on our immunity and amplify medical problems. This includes significant disruptions in cancer care, diminished patient outreach programmes, etc. We need to remember these lessons learnt from the pandemic and act accordingly. Key measures consist of stepping up efforts to bridge these inequities and addressing them to improve the control, care, and prevention of cancer.
The Many Faces of Cancer
Different types of cancer are more commonly found in men and women, respectively. Prostate, lung, stomach, liver, and colorectal cancer are more prevalent in men. Similarly, breast, lung, thyroid, colorectal, and cervical cancer are most common sub-types of the disease among women.
Cancer is caused when normal cells of any part of our body transform into tumour cells through a multi-stage process. Usually, a malignant tumour develops from a pre-cancerous lesion across several stages. These cancerous tumour cells form when an individual’s genetic factors interact with the following types of external agents –
- biological carcinogens, like viral, bacterial, or parasitic infections;
- physical carcinogens, such as ionizing radiation and ultraviolet rays;
- chemical carcinogens, including arsenic, tobacco smoke, asbestos, aflatoxin (a fungal toxin found in agro-based food), etc.
A Helping Hand
International governments have partnered with numerous medical and non-profit bodies to boost awareness about the disease and increase screening drives among the economically and academically backward strata of society. Nevertheless, many people are unable to get screening tests done because of poor income, absence of medical institutions, and lack of a proper health insurance.
Efficient and easily available cancer treatment services can save thousands of people from succumbing to this life-threatening disease. Greater equity across healthcare sectors will also strengthen overall communities and benefit the wider economy. This will also help us to better moderate and balance our health budget.
A Costly Affair
With the slow but steady rise in cancer occurrence, healthcare costs have also skyrocketed over the years. This further points to the importance of financial security alongside medical security to protect us and our loved ones from taking to the streets. Today, every family should have a financial protection over and beyond a generic health insurance plan. What you need is a plan that offers exclusive coverage for various costs of cancer treatment without burning a hole in your pocket.
Almost every health insurance policy available today in India, from government insurance bodies as well as private ones, cover just about every major critical illness, including cancer. However, these policies have a one-time pay-out and usually cover treatment costs of inpatient hospitalization only. You can overcome these limitations by choosing a Critical Illness (CI) insurance policy. These are designed to provide extensive coverage for medical expenses of major life-threatening ailments like heart attack, organ failure, transplants, and, of course, cancer.
One with a Plan
Critical illness plans surely have an edge over comprehensive health insurance policies, with many additional benefits and features; nonetheless they have certain limitations as well. One such drawback is that such plans provide financial coverage for an advanced stage of cancer only, as in, when it can be rightfully considered ‘critical’.
Plus, regular critical ailment plans give you a lump-sum amount and don’t waive off the premiums payable for the future. This is where a dedicated insurance product for cancer care takes a more central stage in your health plan. Thankfully, you can find many such small-token insurance products in the market, each with a number of benefits and features.
Yes You Can!
A research paper published in the Lancet Oncology journal predicted that India would see around 17 lakh patients diagnosed with cancer each year by 2035, along with 12 lakh annual deaths from the disease! This tells us how alarming as well as necessary it is to take every possible measure to safeguard our health and our finances against cancer. Opt for a cost-effective insurance policy that provides you dedicated coverage for advanced stage cancers and more.
This World Cancer Day, tackle the disease head-on! Choose from several such plans like Cancer Indemnity, Cancer Secure, Critical Cancer Care – Female, Critical Illness Cover, and more, only on Bajaj Markets! Here, you can also find unique plans that reimburse your expenses of calling an ambulance, dispensary bills, costs of medical tests doctor consultation charges, etc. Pledge to keep your family safer, starting today!