Screen Readers Skip to Content

Cancer Care Adaptations and Innovations Through COVID-19

Published: 2021-01-20 - Updated: 2021-02-04
Author: Union for International Cancer Control (UICC) | Contact:

Synopsis: On World Cancer Day UICC shines a light on responses to COVID-19 pandemic by world cancer organization's and individuals struggling to maintain progress in cancer care. The World Cancer Day theme "I Am and I Will" encapsulates their extraordinary spirit and the strength of the cancer community. It appears quite certain that disruptions to cancer services in the past year will lead to diagnosis at later stages, which in turn will translate into higher cancer-related mortality.

Main Digest

Marking World Cancer Day on 4th February, the Union for International Cancer Control (UICC) gives voice and says thank you to the nurses, doctors, researchers, volunteers, advocates and other caregivers in oncology from around the world, as well as government agencies, who have worked these past 12 months through the COVID-19 pandemic.

In Other News:

Union for International Cancer Control (UICC)

The Union for International Cancer Control (UICC) is the largest and oldest international cancer-fighting organization. Founded in Geneva in 1933, UICC has over 1,200 member organizations in 172 countries. It enjoys consultative status with the United Nations Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC) and has official relations with the World Health Organization (WHO), the International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC), the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) and the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC). UICC has over 50 partners, including associations, companies and foundations committed to the fight against cancer. UICC is a founding member of the NCD Alliance, the McCabe Center for Law & Cancer and the International Cancer Control Partnership (ICCP) and established the City Cancer Challenge Foundation in January 2019.

UICC's mission is to both unite and support the cancer community in its efforts to reduce the global cancer burden, promote greater equity and ensure that cancer control remains a priority on the global health and development agenda. It pursues these goals by bringing together global leaders through innovative and far-reaching cancer-control events and initiatives, building capacities to meet regional needs and developing awareness campaigns.

16 different colored cancer type awareness ribbons.
16 different colored cancer type awareness ribbons.

2021 World Cancer Day Theme

The World Cancer Day theme "I Am and I Will" encapsulates their extraordinary spirit and the strength of the cancer community. Their stories captured throughout the past year are being showcased on the occasion of World Cancer Day in testimonies and articles on a dedicated page of the official website. These stories highlight that while the pandemic is threatening the progress being made in the fight against cancer, it has also created the opportunity to address systemic weaknesses in many national health systems.

A survey conducted by UICC with over 100 of its member organization's in 55 countries, including civil society, hospitals, research centers and patient support groups, revealed that their income and organisational activities are under significant pressure, with almost three-quarters reporting reductions in income of anywhere from 25% to 100% in 2020 and similar projections for 2021. An analysis of the survey results were published this month in The Lancet Oncology.

The testimonies from UICC members further confirm the difficulties for cancer organization's in maintaining life-saving services, not only due to a drop in resources but also because of the necessary measures enacted to contain the spread of the coronavirus and fears of contagion on the part of patients. Reports highlight exacerbated shortages in front-line staff, sometimes redirected to the COVID-19 response; interruptions and delays in prevention programmes, diagnostics and testing, clinical trials and research; difficulties in engaging in community outreach with restrictions on travel and social gathering; and greater barriers to accessing essential medicines in low and middle-income countries.

Prof Anil D'Cruz, President of UICC and Director of Oncology at Apollo Hospitals in India, said:

"It appears quite certain that disruptions to cancer services in the past year will lead to diagnosis at later stages, which in turn will translate into higher cancer-related mortality. Worse still, the wider economic impact of the pandemic on cancer care in all probability will be felt for many years to come, even in high-income countries in low and middle-income countries, the impact is unfathomable. However, it is heartening to see the incredible response of the cancer community to mitigate these consequences both in India and elsewhere. Their stories are inspiring and these organization's need all the support we can provide to keep doing their incredible work."

The testimonies that UICC is showcasing illustrate how organization's and healthcare workers are rallying across the globe to support patients, resume screenings and diagnostics, maintain awareness on the need for prevention and provide a safe environment for treatment. Volunteers have mobilized to deliver medication and even food to patients in need, or ensure transportation to care centers. The private sector is developing innovative technologies to reduce the time spent in care settings while maintaining quality of treatment. Digital technology is allowing doctors and research centers to collaborate and share knowledge at a global level, and accelerating the move towards greater patient-centered care.

Dr Miriam Mutebi, Consultant and Breast Cancer Surgical Oncologist at Aga Khan University Hospital in Kenya and Member of the UICC Board of Directors, said:

"There has been notable progress in cancer care in recent years. In high-income countries, we have seen drops in incidence and mortality rates for certain cancers. In low- and middle-income regions such as Africa, we are seeing a promising increase in awareness about cancer as well as moves towards the implementation of national cancer control plans. Now is not the time to lose ground but, moving forwards, we must not only take advantage of the adaptations and innovations that are emerging as a "silver lining" to COVID-19, we must also take the opportunity to improve health systems as the pandemic passes."


Considerable challenges remain in the fight against cancer. The widespread impact of the pandemic will make it harder for countries to achieve certain sustainable development goals, in particular health targets and universal health coverage. It may also slow the implementation of WHO's ambitious but realistic global strategy to eliminate cervical cancer within a few generations. At the same time, the adoption of this strategy by the international community at the height of the pandemic proves the ability of governments and organization's to come together and breathe life into the promise that future generations of women will not die from a preventable disease.

Dr Cary Adams, CEO of UICC said:

"COVID-19 has impacted cancer control globally and the response by the cancer community has been extraordinary, heroic even. This year, more than ever, it is appropriate that we celebrate their achievements on World Cancer Day. Let us all aim in 2021 to refocus our collective efforts on the long-term challenges that cancer poses to every country in the world. We must prevent more, diagnose earlier and ensure that all people living with cancer have access to the quality treatment they need."

World Cancer Day 2021 is dedicated to the courage and achievements of people living with cancer and their families, as well as the nurses, doctors, researchers, volunteers, advocates and others who care for them and work on their behalf - and calls for everyone in helping to save lives from this disease.

"Adaptations and innovations in cancer care through COVID-19 and beyond" -

2021 World Cancer Day Activities and Events

Local and international associations and communities around the world come together to hold events dedicated to raising awareness and education about cancer. This year, in light of the pandemic, the cancer community is showing considerable resilience and creativity. Many new activities will be taking place in virtual or hybrid format to replace in-person events that may no longer to be allowed to take place, such as free cancer screenings, fundraisers, awareness walks and runs, and public seminars. For more information about specific events, please visit:

Cancer Awareness Ribbons Color Chart : List, table and printable chart outlining the colors of awareness ribbons that represent different types of cancer and their causes.


Cancer Care Adaptations and Innovations Through COVID-19 | Union for International Cancer Control (UICC) ( Disabled World makes no warranties or representations in connection therewith. Content may have been edited for style, clarity or length.

You're reading Disabled World. See our homepage for informative disability news, reviews, sports, stories and how-tos. You can also connect with us on social media such as Twitter and Facebook or learn more about Disabled World on our about us page.

Disclaimer: Disabled World provides general information only. Materials presented are in no way meant to be a substitute for professional medical care by a qualified practitioner, nor should they be construed as such. Any 3rd party offering or advertising on does not constitute endorsement by Disabled World. View our Advertising Policy for further information. Please report outdated or inaccurate information to us.

Cite Page: Journal: Disabled World. Language: English (U.S.). Author: Union for International Cancer Control (UICC). Electronic Publication Date: 2021-01-20 - Revised: 2021-02-04. Title: Cancer Care Adaptations and Innovations Through COVID-19, Source: <a href=>Cancer Care Adaptations and Innovations Through COVID-19</a>. Retrieved 2021-07-29, from - Reference: DW#318-13918.