Each year, cancer affects millions of people worldwide. In the U.S. nearly 40 percent of men and women will develop cancer in their lifetime. While developing cancer can be a concern, for many people, cancer can be prevented.
Here are three ways to approach cancer prevention:
1. Know your family history.
Research around hereditary cancer is rapidly advancing, both in the treatment and prevention of cancer. If you have a family history of any type of cancer–particularly colon, breast, ovarian, skin, prostate, or pancreatic cancers–please let your physician know. You may be a good candidate for genetic counseling and subsequent testing. For those who have a hereditary disposition to developing cancer, many steps can be taken for early detection screening, and in some instances, preventative surgeries may be the right choice. Some vaccines may be appropriate for those who want to prevent against some cancers as well.
2. Practice healthy habits.
It’s not news that we should be getting good sleep, drinking enough water, making nutritious food choices, and exercising regularly–but often the trick is making these choices a habit. The Centers for Disease Control offers free planning tools that can help you become more educated and motivated to build a healthier lifestyle.
3. Know your environment.
Smoke, UV light, and other environmental factors and choices can build up carcinogens in the body, creating more likelihood for development of cancer. Your family health and eating habits also influence your environment, and it’s important to be mindful of the things you can change, such as food choices, vs. things you can’t control, like genetics. It’s also important to use UV protection when outdoors and to talk to your doctor about any cancer concerns you might have.
Awareness of cancer prevention techniques is the first step in cancer prevention. Keep reading, learning, and having discussions with your family and healthcare teams to help in the fight against cancer. If you’d like to make an appointment with a genetic counselor to discuss your hereditary cancer risk, contact the professionals at Genetic Support Foundation today.