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Cancer Prevention, Detection, Treatments

Prevention, Detection and Treatment: the Front Lines of the Fight Against Cancer

It’s a common occurrence to come across a news story about a breakthrough in the quest to cure cancer. Just last month in fact, researchers in Israel as much as promised they’d have a cure within a year (their controversial claim is unsubstantiated). Claims such as these make worldwide headlines because nearly every family has been impacted by this frightening disease. And while great strides have been made in prevention, detection and treatment, cancer remains the second leading cause of death in the United States, claiming over 598,000 lives each year.

While medical science continues to make progress, prevention remains the one area where each of us has an opportunity to take control. That’s why National Cancer Prevention Month is the ideal time to learn these seven tips for preventing cancer, from our collaborative partners at the Mayo Clinic:

  1. Stay away from tobacco

This is likely advice you’ve heard your whole life, but it bears repeating. Smoking is linked to cancer of the lung, mouth, throat, larynx, pancreas, bladder, cervix and kidney. Chewing tobacco is linked to cancer of the oral cavity and kidney. If you don’t use tobacco, never start. If you do, take advantage of the many programs and products designed to help you quit.

  1. Eat a healthy diet

Eat plenty of fruits and vegetables, drink alcohol only in moderation and limit processed meats. Studies also show that women who eat a Mediterranean diet (mostly plant-based foods like whole grains, legumes, fruits and vegetables) supplemented with extra-virgin olive oil and mixed nuts may have a reduced risk of breast cancer.

  1. Get physically active and maintain a healthy weight

Shoot for 150 minutes a week of moderate aerobic activity or 75 of vigorous aerobic activity. At a minimum, get 30 minutes of physical activity every day. Aside from the cardiovascular benefits, physical activity can help you achieve a healthy weight, which can lower the risk of breast, prostrate, lung, colon and kidney cancer.

  1. Stay sun-safe

Avoid direct sun between 10 a.m. and 4 p.m., wear sunglasses and a broad-brimmed hat, wear tightly woven, loose fitting clothes to cover up as much as possible, use sunscreen of SFP 30 or more, and stay away from sunlamps and tanning beds.

  1. Get your vaccines

Certain viral infections are also linked to cancer. Hepatitis B can increase the risk of liver cancer, while the human papilloma virus (HPV) is linked to cancer of the cervix, head and neck. Talk to your doctor about vaccinations for yourself and every member of your family.

  1. Practice safe sex and don’t share needles

Limit your number of partners and use a condom. Sexually transmitted diseases like HPV and HIV are associated with a variety of cancers. And sharing intravenous drugs can lead to hepatitis B and C, as well as HIV.

  1. Emphasize detection

Your best chance of beating cancer is to detect it as early as possible. Regular self-exams and screenings can help you do just that. The sooner it’s found, the sooner treatment can begin and the more successful that treatment is likely to be. Screening schedules vary by age, gender and health history, so ask your doctor about the best program for you.

Treatment Options

This year, more than 460 out of every 100,000 Americans will be diagnosed with cancer. But the hopeful news is that the odds of survival are improving. There are more than 15.5 million people alive in America today who have a history of cancer. The five-year survival rate for all cancers among adults is 68%. For children, it’s 81%.

The approaches to cancer treatment vary by type and the progression of the disease, but in general, options include:

  • Surgery
  • Chemotherapy
  • Radiation therapy, from a machine or implant
  • Bone marrow transplant
  • Immunotherapy — treating the body’s own immune system to see and attack cancer
  • Hormone therapy — eliminating or blocking the body’s hormones to inhibit cancer cell growth
  • Targeted drug therapy that focuses on attacking the specific abnormalities within cancer cells that allow them to survive
  • Cryoablation — killing cancer cells with supercooled gas
  • Radiofrequency ablation — using high-frequency energy to kill cancer cells with heat
  • Clinical trials — investigative studies into new therapies and medicines

St. Clair Hospital’s Cancer Center provides advanced, personal care at every point in the fight against cancer. From screening to early detection to treatment and palliative care, you can be assured of world-class tools, technology and expertise without leaving the community you call home.

To learn more, visit our Cancer Care web page at stclair.org/cancer-care. And give yourself the best fighting chance.