What can I do to prevent cancer?

Great question for national cancer prevention month!

You may have read a lot about this already – don’t smoke, minimize alcohol, keep a healthy weight, etc.  Don’t worry, I won’t bore you with a repetition.  Rather, I’ll make just 3 suggestions:

Your family history matters:  Pay attention and ask questions.  If possible, start screening for a cancer in your family at least 10 years before the age at which the youngest family member was diagnosed.  For example, if your mother had breast cancer at 37, you should probably start mammograms at 27.  Do you have a lot of cancer in your family?  Ask if you should have genetic testing if available.

Simple lifestyle changes and health measures are a great idea:  Get help to stop smoking and minimize alcohol.  Try to maintain a health weight.  Protect the skin against melanoma and such skin cancers.  Get immunized against hepatitis B infection which can lead to some liver cancers.  Ask your pediatrician if your child should receive the HPV vaccine against cervical cancer.  These are just a few examples.

Remember secondary prevention:  Primary prevention is stopping a condition from developing in the first place.  Secondary prevention means catching it early if it happens.  For example, pap smears for cervical cancer, mammograms for breast cancer, colonoscopy and stool testing for colon cancer, skin exams for skin cancer, are all forms of secondary cancer prevention.  Cancers detected early are easier to treat and cure.

What else have you learned about cancer prevention? Feel free to leave a comment below.  If you found this helpful, do share with your family and friends.  I also love hearing from you!  Let me know if there is a topic you’d like me to write about.

Written by 

Author of "Self navigate for health" available as eBook on Amazon and paperback on Lulu. Hematology-oncology physician writing about medical self-advocacy or "self-navigation", cancer, blood disorders, and books

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