World Cancer Day 2020

This 4 February is World Cancer Day. Cancer affects us all – it hurts families, the economy and our future. Every person matters and as such every action counts. What would you do to reduce cancer risk? #IAmAndIWill

What is cancer ?

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 (except leukaemia – cancer of the blood). If left untreated, tumours can grow and spread into the surrounding normal tissue, or to other parts of the body via the bloodstream and lymphatic systems, and can affect the nervous, circulatory and digestive systems or cause the release hormones that can affect the body’s normal function. (Union for International Cancer Control).

Key Cancer Facts

  • 9.6 million people die from cancer every year.
  • More than one third of all common cancers can be prevented.
  • Cancer is the second-leading cause of death worldwide.
  • Low-to-middle income countries have the highest (70%) number of global cancer deaths.
  • Early detection as preventive measures and treatments could save up to 3.7 million lives each year.

The eye is unfortunately not immuned from developing cancers. The world appears to be more aware of certain cancers particular those of the breast, prostate, leukemia and cervix among others. As your eye care practitioner we want to put across an important message to help save your eyes and lives.

Symptoms of eye cancer can include:

  • a dark patch in the eye that gets bigger
  • partial or total loss of vision
  • bulging of 1 eye
  • a lump on the eyelid or in the eye that increases in size

The following factors may increase the risk of it happening:

  • lighter eye colour
  • white or pale skin
  • unusual moles – irregularly shaped or unusually coloured moles, the higher the risk of developing any skin related cancer and eye melanoma
  • use of sunbeds – some evidence suggest that exposing yourself to ultraviolet (UV) radiation from sunbeds, for example, can increase your risk of eye melanoma
  • overexposure to sunlight increases the risk of having skin cancer, and could also be a high risk for developing eye melanoma

Eye cancers come in different forms, namely melanoma, squamous cell carcinoma, lymphoma, and retinoblastoma. Melanoma is the most common form of eye cancer, while retinoblastoma is a cancer which occurs in children – an easy way to recognise it is the white reflection which you see when taking a picture with flash (see photo below). 


All in all, we want you to be better prepared and help spread the word to fight cancer in whatever form it comes. Do not forget to have your regular eye tests !

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