Cancer is the second leading cause of death after heart disease. There are more than 100 different types of cancer. Lung cancer, skin cancer, breast cancer, prostate cancer, and colorectal cancer are the most common in the US. In this post, we will focus on cancer prevention and screening.
Researchers are making progress in understanding the biology of cancer cells. That is why there has been some improvement in the diagnosis and treatment of cancer. Cancer is no longer a death sentence. It is now treatable and can be prevented.
Millions of people are now recovering from different types of cancers. Doctors are now able to successfully treat cancer, especially when they detect it in its early stage. Despite the good news to cancer patients and their families, we are still losing hundreds of thousands of people from this disease. Luckily, we can prevent that using the following ways:
The main reason why people are still dying from cancer is that very few people get cancer screening tests regularly. Many people wait until they start getting symptoms for them to talk to their doctor. These patients are unfortunate because cancer can stay in the body for years without displaying any symptoms. If you wait until you start getting symptoms, you will be too late to start your treatment. That is because many types of cancer don’t display their symptoms in their first and second stage.
Regular cancer screening tests can help detect cancer in its early stages, which increases the chances for a successful treatment. Cancer screening means checking your body for cancerous cells before you start getting symptoms. Remember, the currently available cancer treatment options work better when you start treatment early.
The US Preventive Services Task Force (USPSTF) and Center for Disease Control (CDC) supports and recommends screening for lung, breast, cervical, and colorectal cancers. The USPSTF has evidence that screening for these types of cancers regularly can reduce deaths. You can also get screening for prostate, testicular, ovarian, pancreatic, and thyroid cancers.
Cancer screening isn’t always safe. The first step is to talk with your doctor about it. Your doctor will recommend a screening schedule depending on your family health history (genetics) and personal health history.
Apart from regular cancer screening, there are several other things that we can do to reduce cancer deaths. Prevention is better than cure. There is no one thing that you can do to be immune to cancer, but there are several things that you can do to lower your risks. Simple lifestyle changes like quitting smoking can make a difference. If you are interested in cancer prevention, consider the following cancer-prevention tips:
1. Human Papillomavirus (HPV) Vaccine
Researchers have now found that human papillomavirus is responsible for some types of cancer. They think that HPV is responsible for approximately 90 percent of cervical cancers. The virus is sexually transmitted and can also cause cancer of the vulva, vagina, penis, oropharynx, and anus.
There are different types of HPV. Some go away by themselves without causing cancer. Studies show that HPV infection usually cause cancer when it stays in the body for more than two years. That means that you can get this infection and still not get cancer.
HPV vaccination can help prevent an HPV infection. CDC recommends HPV vaccination for everyone between the age of 11 and 26 years. If you are between 27 and 45 years, you should talk with your doctor before getting an HPV shot. HPV vaccination prevents HPV infection but does not treat it, and that is why CDC recommends it for preteens because they have not yet been exposed.
The vaccine does not substitute regular cervical cancer screening. That is because there are other causes of cervical cancer apart from HPV infection. Routine Pap and HPV tests are worth it even after getting the shot.
2. Hepatitis B Vaccine
Hepatitis B virus (HPV) causes a liver disease known as Hepatitis B. The virus is transmittable through mucosal contact with infectious body fluids(blood, semen, and saliva). The virus can survive for up to 7 days outside the body.
Chronic HBV infection can cause liver disease, liver cancer, or both. Taking a Hepatitis B vaccine can help lower your risks of liver cancer. The vaccine is available for people of all ages.
3. Healthy Choices
Apart from vaccination, you can prevent or lower your cancer risks by making healthy choices. There are some behaviors that you can adopt to lower your risk of diseases. Here are some simple lifestyle changes that can make a difference when it comes to cancer prevention:
Quit tobacco smoking
Tobacco smoking increases your risks of lung cancer. Not all lung cancers are caused by smoking. There are still other causes, but tobacco smoking is responsible for approximately 80 to 90 percent of all lung cancer cases. Smokers are 25 times more likely to die from lung cancer compared to non-smokers. Apart from lung cancer, tobacco smoking also increases your risks of cancers of the larynx, mouth, throat, esophagus, trachea, bronchus, stomach, pancreas, liver, rectum, colon, kidney, urinary bladder, renal pelvis, and cervix.
People who are living with smokers are also at high risk. These people are at 20 to 30 percent higher risk of getting lung cancer. Secondhand smoke can cause cancer, severe asthma attacks, sudden infant death syndrome, respiratory inspection, and ear infection. Trying to avoid secondhand smoke can help lower the risks of cancer and other health problems.
Limit alcohol intake
Regular high alcohol intake increases the risks of getting cancers of the liver, mouth, larynx, esophagus, colon, rectum, and breast. No matter the type of alcohol that you take, whether it is beer, red and white wine, liquor, or cocktail, the more you take, the higher your cancer risks.
When you take alcohol, your body breaks it down into acetaldehyde. This chemical has the potential to damage your DNA and prevent your body from repairing it. When a cell’s DNA is damaged, it can begin to grow excessively and cause a cancerous tumor.
That does not mean that you have to quit taking your favorite drink. All that you need is to drink in moderation. Ladies should not take more than one glass in a day, while men should not take more than two glasses. If you aren’t yet drinking, don’t start because of the few possible health benefits, the risks are more than the goods. People who are on medication, including cancer treatment, should also avoid taking alcohol.
Protect your skin
Skin cancer is among the most common types of cancer. One in every five people in the US develops skin cancer by the time they get to 70. Exposure to UV rays from the sun is among the primary causes of skin cancer. People who spend many hours outdoor should apply sunscreen, wear protective clothing like sunglasses and hats, and stay in the shade when possible to lower their skin cancer risks.
People who are outdoor under direct sunlight between 10 a.m and 10 p.m are the most at risk, especially here in the US. UV rays are also high during early summer and late spring. Taking care of your skin today can save your body from developing skin cancer tomorrow.
Keep a healthy body weight
Recent studies are showing that cancer risks of obese and overweight people are rising. Some of the cancers that are common in obese and overweight people include endometrial, breast, and colorectal cancers.
If you are overweight, you can reduce your cancer risk by losing weight. Choosing a healthy diet can help you maintain a healthy weight and lower your cancer risks. Doing at least 150 minutes of moderate-intensity physical exercise like brisk walking can also help.