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World Cancer Day: an Ongoing Commitment to Prevention, Early Detection and Treatment

Cancer affects people all over the world, regardless of background, location or wealth. In 2008 it accounted for 7.6 million deaths, and the figure is expected to rise to over 13 million by 2030. Yet the fight against the disease is constantly gaining momentum and World Cancer Day on 4 February 2012 aims to make a difference by raising awareness and lobbying for even greater progress.

To mark the day, people all over the globe will join together at special events and online via social networks and websites. GE Healthcare has made its own commitment to fighting cancer.

Alongside its medical imaging technologies, GE Healthcare places particular emphasis on early detection and prevention through healthy living. This reflects a belief that taking steps against the disease before it begins could eventually create a world where it is avoided altogether. Tackling cancer in its initial stages has already led to significant progress. Partly due to higher levels of screening, five-year breast cancer survival rates in the USA, UK, Canada, Ireland, Finland and Sweden improved in the period from 1997 to 2007. More than 30% of cancer could be prevented, mainly by not using tobacco, having a healthy diet, being physically active and moderating the use of alcohol. In developing countries up to 20% of cancer deaths could be prevented by immunization against the infection of HBV and HPV.

$1 billion investment in research

Indeed, breast cancer is an area of oncology where GE continues to innovate. The first “healthymagination Challenge”, part of an overall $1 billion commitment to cancer-related research and development, is an open call to action for researchers and healthcare innovators seeking ideas to accelerate innovation in breast cancer. Through the Challenge, GE and its venture partners will make as much as $100 million available to fund breakthrough ideas that advance early detection techniques, more accurate diagnoses and targeted treatment.

Meanwhile, GE Healthcare’s Breast Cancer Mosaic has been active since October 2009, helping tell the stories of women, men, caregivers and medical professionals who have been touched by breast cancer. To recognize Breast Cancer Awareness Month 2011, the Mosaic website was redesigned and re-launched, improving the website’s provision of information about the disease and introducing new social media features to help users share stories and advice.

In addition to the Breast Cancer Mosaic, GE Healthcare recognizes that each cancer case requires individual, customized treatment, an idea captured by “Is My Cancer Different?” This new online resource provides cancer patients with informative content and insights from leading health experts about the benefits of molecular testing and personalized treatment options for a variety of cancers, such as breast, lung, prostate and colorectal. 

Stay fit and healthy

Prevention through healthy living is a fundamental pillar of GE Healthcare’s battle against cancer. Indeed, it has unveiled a number of innovative initiatives to promote fitness and wellbeing.

“Get Fit” is a great example — a campaign that invited people around the world to share their own health and fitness activities on popular social networking site, Twitter. Throughout June and July 2011, nearly 8,000 health and fitness building tweets were sent from more than 30 countries.

GE has also examined other ways to make a healthy lifestyle both fun and achievable, and is now at the forefront of health-related mobile apps. “Fit Friendzy” allows people to track the vital statistics of their exercise routines, set personal challenges, and share results with friends. “Morsel”, meanwhile, suggests daily tasks that anyone can do to improve their general health and potentially improve their chances of avoiding or surviving cancer.


For its own employees, GE has developed a carefully tailored program called “HealthAhead”, helping GE staff make healthy and sustainable lifestyle choices. In 2011, the company sponsored a HealthAhead day in GE locations around the world. Over 15,000 employees took part at 56 different sites — participating in wellbeing-related activities such as group walks, cooking demonstrations and meditation sessions.

The fight against cancer has a long way to go, but World Cancer Day proves a broad international determination to beat the disease and develop ever better ways to detect and cure. GE Healthcare is committed to the fight against the disease, and continues to play its part, as an organization and member of the international community, by promoting prevention and developing new detection methods.

Staying healthy and leading an active lifestyle are important for helping reduce the chances of developing cancer. Using the comment section below, let us know what you’ve been doing to stay fit and healthy. Is the secret to eat a portion of fruit every day? Or do you take the stairs instead of the elevator? Share your tips and ideas below in time for World Cancer Day.


Staying healthy and leading an active lifestyle are important for helping reduce the chances of developing cancer