By Patty Nedo
Most people fear a cancer diagnosis. We’ve become familiar with the sight of support ribbons displayed to raise awareness about different types of cancer, such as pink ribbons that stand for breast cancer, orange ribbons for leukemia, teal for ovarian cancer, gray for brain cancer, lavender for pancreatic cancer, blue for colon cancer, and light blue for prostate cancer.
Although anyone may develop cancer, the risk of developing certain types of cancer may be higher for some, based on their age, gender, ethnicity, and lifestyle. Cancer survivorship may improve with early detection and the presence of modifiable risk factors.
Modifiable risk factors include:
- Smoking cessation
- Achieving and maintaining a healthy weight
- Exercising at a moderate intensity for at least 150 minutes each week
- Eating whole grains and at least 2.5 cups of vegetables and fruit per day
- Minimizing consumption of red and processed meat
- Limiting alcohol intake to one (for women) or two (for men) drinks per day
- Using sunscreen, and wearing a shirt, hat, and sunglasses when exposed to the sun
- Getting vaccinated for human papilloma virus (HPV)
Early detection includes cancer screenings such as:
- Mammography for breast cancer
- Colonoscopy for colon cancer, starting at age 50
- Pap test for cervical cancer
- CT scan of the chest for lung cancer, for patients age 55 to 74 in good health with a 30-year history of smoking who are either still smoking or have quit within the last 15 years
- Tests for prostate cancer for me, starting at age 50; however, men should discuss the risks and benefits of these test with their health care provider, since research has not proven that the benefits of testing outweigh the risks
- Testicular self-examination for men, starting at age 15
What’s on the horizon for cancer treatment? Newer treatments include targeted therapies based on the DNA structure of the malignancy.
The American Cancer Society website is a great resource for both health care consumers and health care professionals.