It is National Cancer Prevention Month and so totally appropriate to write about this. When we talk about cancer prevention, we are mostly talking about primary and secondary prevention. Click here for definitions from the WHO.
Remember that everyone is at risk. Yes, black and brown people also do get skin cancer. In fact, black people with melanoma are more likely to die from it, than their white counterparts. Most people with breast cancer do not have a family history. Any one, of any age, and any ethnicity may be at risk. Non-smokers can develop cancer. The list of examples is endless. Basically, a lingering symptom should never be ignored – blood in stool or urine, unexplained weight loss, longstanding cough, night sweats, lumps, unexplained pain, etc. While such symptoms do not necessarily mean cancer, one needs to discuss with a doctor if persisting.
Pay attention to your family history and ask questions. Now here’s something none of us can change, and it is genetics. Your family history may indicate a higher than average risk of certain cancers. It may indicate that genetic testing is required.
Pay attention to primary prevention. Removing an organ that is likely to form a cancer, before the cancer develops, is primary prevention at its best. Getting a vaccine to prevent infection by a cancer-causing virus, stopping smoking, minimizing alcohol, and exercising to maintain a healthy weight, are other examples.
Keep up with secondary prevention. It is always sad to learn that one felt well and so never thought to see a doctor for years. Believe me, catching a cancer early is a lot better than later. Mammograms, Pap smears, lung CT scans, and colonoscopies all fall in the category of secondary prevention. Even when well, seeing a doctor frequently will allow for reminders about cancer screening and maintaining good health generally.
Perhaps you have other thoughts or would like to share your experience so do get in touch. If you found this helpful, please share with your friends. Hover over the bottom right and click on “Follow” to subscribe to my blog.