Yangyel Lhaden

Bhutan cancer society (BCS) initiated a 40-second cancer walk challenge (CWC) since January 10 to create awareness.

The challenge, which started on the World Cancer Walk, would last till February 4, the day observed as World Cancer Day (WCD).

BCS was invited to participate in first-ever World Cancer Walk on January 10, 2021 with the aim to include participating countries to take part in one hour walk, and the combination of these hours around the world would be equivalent to 24 hours spanning almost all time zones across the world.

An official with BCS said that due to the lockdown, they could not participate in the one-hour challenge and came up with 40-second CWC. “The initial plan was to start the walk from the memorial Chorten at 1pm and complete at Semtokha Dzong.”

BCS’s executive director, Sonam Yangchen, said that they were trying to reach out to wider audience to make people aware of cancer.

She said that their goal was to reduce cancer incidence, morbidity, and mortality, encourage screening and early detection, and to improve the quality of lives of cancer patients and family.

She also said that the 40-second challenge was to convey the messages. “It does not mean walking 40 seconds could prevent or cure cancer.”

According to the executive director, participants from all walks of life including cancer patients and survivors had taken part in this challenge.

She said that cancer is preventable and early detection was the key. “Cervical cancer is common amongst women and it is preventable with early detection.”

January is observed as cervical health awareness month globally.

A health personnel, in the video challenge encourages women to go for pap smear test. “Cancer is preventable and treatable.”

According to cancer incidence and mortality in Bhutan 2014-2018 report, 2,744 cancer cases were detected, out of which 1,205 are male and 1,539 female.

The report stated that 925 individuals lost their lives to cancer in the period, out of which 477 were male and 464 were female.

It also stated that stomach cancer is the most common cancer among Bhutanese followed by cervical cancer. Stomach cancer is the leading cause of death in the country. The deaths are attributed to the advanced stage at diagnosis.

The report also stated that the cumulative risk of getting cancer among Bhutanese population is 1:9 male and 1:11 female. According to the registered cases, cancer was more prevalent in men above the age of 50 and female above the age of 30.

Meanwhile, this year’s theme for world cancer day is World cancer walk and slogan:  “I walk so that no one walks their cancer journey alone.”

An individual can use the hashtag #40SCWC #WORLDCANCERWALK #BHUTANCANCERSOCIETY and make a 40-second video of you walking around the comfort of your homes and share information about cancer.