Cancer prevention month is a time to celebrate our power, to take control of our health and reduce the risk of developing cancer. As the World Health Organization (WHO) reports, about one-third of all cancer cases can be prevented through lifestyle changes and preventative measures. We can significantly lower cancer risk by making mindful choices in our daily lives.
During cancer prevention month, we have the opportunity to learn more about the various methods that can be used to prevent cancer and positively impact our health and the health of those around us.
How Can We Prevent Cancer?
Cancer is a leading cause of death globally but also a preventable disease. Individuals can significantly reduce their risk of developing cancer by making specific lifestyle changes and taking preventative measures. There are several steps that individuals can take to reduce their risk of developing cancer:
- Maintain a Healthy Diet: Eating a diet rich in fruits, vegetables, whole grains and low in processed and red meats can help reduce the risk of certain types of cancer.
- Exercise Regularly: Regular physical activity can help lower the risk of certain types of cancer, such as breast and colon cancer.
- Avoid Tobacco and Excessive Alcohol Consumption: Using smoking and consuming large amounts of alcohol can increase the risk of cancer.
- Consider Getting Vaccinated: Some viruses, such as hepatitis B and human papillomavirus (HPV), can increase cancer risk. Vaccination can help protect against these viruses and lower the risk of developing cancer.
- Undergo Regular Screenings and Checkups: Early detection is key to successful cancer treatment. Regular screenings and checkups can help detect cancer early when it is most treatable.
- Protect Your Skin: Excessive sun exposure can increase the risk of skin cancer. Protecting your skin by wearing sunscreen and protective clothing can help lower the risk.
- Avoid Exposure to Carcinogens: Certain substances, such as chemicals and radiation, can increase cancer risk. Limiting exposure to these substances can help reduce the risk of developing cancer. (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention)
Preventable Causes of Cancer
The American Association for Cancer Research (AACR) Cancer Progress Report 2022 highlights the success of public education and policy initiatives in reducing cancer morbidity and mortality in the United States. Between 1991 and 2019, overall cancer mortality in the U.S. decreased by 32%, primarily due to reductions in smoking and improved early detection for some cancers.
Despite these advances, some major cancer risk factors remain common, particularly among specific populations that experience cancer health disparities, such as racial and ethnic minorities and other underserved groups. The AACR Cancer Disparities Progress Report 2022 further discusses this issue. (Cancer Progress Report)
Can Cancer Be Cured?
Cancer is a complex disease that can significantly impact the lives of those affected. While it is not always possible to cure cancer, many treatment options can help control the disease and improve the quality of life for those with cancer.
The possibility of curing cancer depends on various factors, including the type and stage of cancer, the available treatment options, and the patient’s circumstances. Some types of cancer are more likely to be cured than others, and different cancers require different treatment approaches.
It is rare for a doctor to be advise that cancer will not return after treatment, but the longer a person remains cancer-free, the greater the likelihood that cancer will not recur. More commonly, doctors say that cancer is “in remission” rather than “cured” if treatment appears successful. Remission is when cancer responds to treatment or is under control. While it is natural to hope for a complete cure, it is essential to understand that remission does not necessarily mean that cancer has been permanently eliminated. Remissions can last from a few weeks to several years. (American Cancer Society)
Cancer prevention month is a time to raise awareness about how individuals can reduce their risk of cancer. This includes maintaining a healthy diet and exercise routine, avoiding tobacco and excessive alcohol, vaccinating against certain viruses, and undergoing regular screenings. By taking these preventative measures, we can work towards a future where cancer is less prevalent and more manageable. By continuing to educate ourselves about cancer prevention and taking action to reduce our risk, we can worry less and live more.
Cancer Progress Report. “Preventing Cancer: Identifying Risk Factors – CPR22.” Cancer Progress Report, 21 Sept. 2022, cancerprogressreport.aacr.org/progress/cpr22-contents/cpr22-preventing-cancer-identifying-risk-factors/.
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. “How to Prevent Cancer or Find It Early.” Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 19 May 2022, www.cdc.gov/cancer/dcpc/prevention/index.htm#:~:text=You%20can%20reduce%20your%20risk,drink%2C%20and%20protecting%20your%20skin.
American Cancer Society. “Can Cancer Be Cured?” American Cancer Society, www.cancer.org/treatment/understanding-your-diagnosis/can-cancer-be-cured.html#:~:text=Cure%20versus%20remission,the%20cancer%20might%20come%20back.