Almost everyone has been touched by cancer in some form. It’s hard to escape it. A loved one, friend, colleague or neighbor is likely battling it right now.
February is National Cancer Prevention Month, a time dedicated to raising awareness about the steps you can take that may help to prevent cancer and the importance of early detection.
According to the National Cancer Institute (NCI), the most common type of cancer is breast cancer. 234,000 people are diagnosed with it each year. It is followed by prostate cancer and lung cancer.
Overall, the top 12 forms of cancer are:
- Bladder Cancer
- Breast Cancer
- Colon and Rectal Cancer
- Endometrial Cancer
- Kidney Cancer
- Lung Cancer
- Non-Hodgkin Lymphoma
- Pancreatic Cancer
- Prostate Cancer
- Thyroid Cancer
Warning Signs that Might Indicate Cancer
While every type of cancer is unique, there are some overall symptoms that need to be shared with and followed up on by a physician. They include:
- Extreme fatigue that doesn’t improve with rest
- Unintended or unexplained weight loss
- Pain that doesn’t go away such as a headache or backache
- Changes in skin color
- Sores that won’t heal
- Changes in bowel or bladder habits
The good news is that many forms of cancer can be prevented by adopting a healthy lifestyle.
5 Steps You Can Take Today to Prevent Cancer
- Eat a Healthy Diet: We’ve all heard this one over and over. A healthy diet is one of the first lines of defense against cancer. Health experts say 70% of the immune system lies in your stomach. The American Cancer Society’s Healthy Eating Resource Center is a great place to learn more.
- Get Moving: A sedentary lifestyle puts you at higher risk for a variety of health problems ranging from cancer to diabetes, high blood pressure and even depression. The weekly activity goal for healthy adults is 150 minutes of moderate exercise each week or 75 minutes of vigorous activity.
- Kick the Habit: If you are a smoker, make 2016 the year you finally kick the habit. Smoking cessation programs have come a long way in recent years. Talk with your family physician about which one might be best for you or a senior you love.
- Be Safe in the Sun: Most of us know a “healthy glow” really isn’t healthy at all. Melanoma is one of the fastest rising forms of cancer is the U.S. Try to avoid being out in the sun between the hours of 10 am and 4 pm when UV rays are strongest. When you are outdoors, wear sunscreen and reapply it often. Wear a hat that shields your face, sunglasses, and a loose fitting, long-sleeved shirt.
- Stay on Top of Health Screenings: Follow your doctor’s orders when it comes to cancer detection. Routine screenings like a prostate exam or a mammogram save lives.
The American Cancer Society has a free resource you can download. Guidelines for Early Detection of Cancer can help you learn more about your risk factors and how to spot potential problems early.