Tag Archive for: cancer prevention

February 2022 Notable News

February brings more innovation in the field of oncology. This month there are many advances for cancer prevention. Scientists are developing a single test for women that can detect and predict the risk of getting four types of cancer. Thanks to new research, doctors have lowered the screening age for colon cancer from age 50 to 45. Finally, a decade long study has proven there is a link between alcohol and some deadly cancers.

Test for Four Types of Women’s Cancer

Scientists are developing a “revolutionary” test to predict a woman’s risk of four cancers using a single sample collected during cervical screening, reports TheGuardian.com . This test uses a cervical tissue sample to spot ovarian, uterine, cervical, and breast cancers. Patients diagnosed with ovarian cancer have the highest risk of death due to it typically being diagnosed in late stages. This cancer has subtle symptoms making it difficult to detect in early stages. Earlier detection could mean stopping the cancer before it even starts in some cases. This test could provide risk scores for patients by assessing genetic footprints that can be tracked over time. These risk scores allow for a more personalized approach to screening, prevention, and detection. Find more information here.

Earlier Screening for Colon Cancer

In the new study, researchers found that Americans in their 20’s and 30’s are seeing the steepest rise in distant-stage colon cancer— later-stage tumors that have spread to other sites in the body reports UPINews.com. The symptoms of colon cancer are changes in bowel habits, blood in stool, abdominal cramps that are persistent, and weight loss for unknown reason. There has been a delay in detection causing a higher mortality rate. Providers are reacting to this rise in colon cancer in younger people by lowering the screening age from 50 to 45. So far, there is not an obvious reason as to the increase in incidence of colon cancer in younger people. Doctors suggest there is a correlation with obesity and diabetes. Screening for colon cancer is a powerful tool for prevention, family history is an important part of this screening. Find more information here.

Link between Alcohol and Cancer

The roughly decade-long study, published last week in the International Journal of Cancer, has confirmed a link between certain types of cancer and the amount of alcohol a person consumes reports Survivornet.com. Cancers included in this study are esophageal cancers, and head and neck cancers. A person with one or both genetic variants show an increased risk. This variant reduces one’s tolerance to alcohol, causing the body to not be able to break down the alcohol. It is also noted that drinking alcohol in combination with smoking puts a person at a much higher risk for cancer. Doctors suggest considering moderation when it comes to drinking alcohol, limiting the number of drinks to four per week. Find more information here.

January 2022 Notable News

January offers hope. This year is starting with many new and exciting advances in the areas of cancer diagnosis, prevention, and treatment. A simple blood test has been found to detect if a patient has cancer and if it has metastasized in the body. There are now new clues as to how ovarian cancer begins and therefore might be prevented. Cancers have been found to be sorted by immune archetypes to make more precise immunotherapies to treat the cancer. It is encouraging to see the results of the prevention efforts, there is new research to show that the HPV cancer vaccine is saving lives.

Blood Test for Cancer Detection

A University of Oxford study outlines a new type of blood test that can be used to detect a range of cancers and whether these cancers have spread (metastasized) in the body, reports MedicalXpress.com. This blood test can be helpful in finding and staging cancer in the future for patients with non-specific symptoms that concern the provider. This is the first simple blood test to find metastatic cancer without any prior knowledge of the cancer type. A different technique is used with this blood test, it uses magnetic fields and radio waves to profile metabolites from the cancer tumors in the blood. Early diagnosis of cancer offers a better prognosis for patients, this blood test is easily, quickly, and affordably done by a primary doctor. Find more information here.

Clues into Ovarian Cancer

In a new study, scientists used stem cells created from the blood samples of women with BRCA mutations and ovarian cancer to fashion a model of fallopian tube tissue. There, they found first hints of ovarian cancer in the fallopian tube tissue, reports U.S.News.com. The hope is that by studying this tissue, they can predict ovarian cancer many years in advance of it developing. Ovarian cancer is one of the leading causes of cancer deaths for women due in part to the subtlety of the symptoms. Women with BRCA-1 mutations have a much higher risk of developing ovarian cancer. If scientists can find the abnormalities in the fallopian tube tissue, they may be able to stop the cancer. Using this fallopian tissue, they may be able to test which drug is most effective on the cancer without having to expose the patient to the drug first. The findings of this study may allow doctors to have early detection of ovarian cancer and have more effective treatments for the patient. Find more information here.

Sorting Cancers to Develop Precision Treatments

Using data from over 300 patient tumors, researchers have described 12 classes of ‘immune archetypes’ to classify cancer tumors, reports Sciencedaily.com. This study showed that cancers from different parts of the body respond similarly immunologically. Tumors are made up of immune cells that are supposed to fight the cancer cells, but with cancer cells, they overpower the body’s immune cells and take over. These ‘immune archetypes’ allow for doctors to personalize each patient’s cancer immunotherapy. This information helps researchers explain why immunotherapy works for some patients and not others. These archetypes increase information needed by physicians to appropriately treat the cancer tumors with the right immunotherapy, thereby significantly improving patient outcomes. Find more information here.

HPV Vaccine Saves Lives

New data confirms that the vaccine is already saving lives. The number of cervical cancer cases and deaths among American women dropped after the HPV vaccine was introduced in 2006, according to a November 2021 study in the Journal of the American Medical Association, reports mskcc.org. While this study speaks for itself, there are still many people afraid to get this vaccine for their children. HPV is a common sexually transmitted infection with very severe consequences to the body. There is an increase in throat and neck cancer caused by HPV, this has greatly affected both men and women. Physicians want to emphasize that this vaccine does not promote sexual activity, this vaccine saves lives. This simple vaccine can save the lives of many people and prevent cancer caused by HPV from ever occurring. Find more information here.

October 2021 Notable News

It’s important to keep things in perspective, especially when there is a lot of information coming at you, and there is a lot of information this month. From unwarranted vaccine concerns and real concerns about fighter pilots to potential new therapies involving CBD oil, anti-nausea meds and immunotherapies, it’s a lot to take in. The most important take away is to make sure you exercise and make sure you know your cancer risks and when you should get your screenings.

Breast Cancer Screening

Black women may want to consider starting mammograms at age 40 rather than age 50, says sciencedaily.com. New information shows that breast cancer deaths in black women could be reduced by 57 percent when screening is done every other year beginning at age 40. The study was done as part of an effort to develop equitable health recommendations for black women who tend to have higher rates of aggressive cancers at younger ages than white women. Learn more here.

Preventing Cancer with Activity

Americans could be preventing more than 46,000 cancer cases each year, reports medicalxpress.com. New data shows that physical inactivity, especially in women, led to three percent of all cancer cases in adults aged 30 and older. While meeting the recommended guidelines of five hours per week of moderate intensity activity could prevent those cancer cases, researchers note that there are often obstacles in the way of people meeting exercise requirements such as access to safe places to exercise, childcare costs, and long working hours. Learn more here.

Immunotherapy

Researchers may have discovered a new way for immunotherapies to be used against more cancers, reports mit.edu. With the new method, researchers remove tumor cells from the body and treat them with chemotherapy. They then put the cells back in the tumor and administer drugs that activate T cells. That combination seems to be the trick to awaken the immune system. Researchers found that cells that were injured by the chemotherapy were more successful at triggering the immune system than dead cells were. Learn more about this promising new immunotherapy method here.

Dexamethasone Benefits

An anti-nausea drug could be the key to better short-term survival for patients who have surgery for some types of cancer, reports usnews.com. Researchers found that patients who received dexamethasone were about one-third less likely to die in the 90 days following their surgery. In order to prove the findings, clinical trials will need to be done. Learn more about dexamethasone and it’s potential to increase patient survival here.

Lung Cancer and CBD

A case study reported in medicalnewstoday.com showed that a lung cancer patient who took CBD oil showed a reduction in her tumor. CBD oil is a concentrated extract of cannabis leaves or flowers which is often used by cancer patients to treat pain, and the side effects of chemotherapy such as nausea and vomiting. The female patient, located in the United Kingdom, was in her 80s and smoked more than a pack of cigarettes a week before and after her diagnosis, and did not change her diet or lifestyle while she was being monitored. During a two-and-a-half-year period, her scans showed a progressive decrease in her tumor. Learn more about the case study here.

HPV Vaccine

Parents are expressing concerns about the safety of the HPV vaccines despite 15 years of evidence that they are safe and effective, reports cancer.gov. The HPV vaccine protects against cancers caused by the human papillomavirus and is recommend for 11- and 12-year-olds, but the study shows that the number of parents who declined the vaccine for their children due to safety concerns nearly doubled between 2015 and 2018. However, during the same time period the reports of serious complications from the vaccine were rare. Researchers suspect that social media use is a factor in the increased doubts about the vaccines. Find our more here.

Fighter Pilots and Cancer

United States Air Force Fighter Pilots and crew members are more likely to get some cancers than other members of the Air Force, reports defenseone.com. A comprehensive study among pilots and crew of fighter aircraft found that they were 29 percent more likely to be diagnosed with testicular cancer, 24 percent more likely to be diagnosed with melanoma, and 23 percent more likely to be diagnosed with prostate cancer. Researchers are encouraging fighter aviators to discuss the study and their potential cancer risks with their care providers. Get more information about the study here.

Check out nwaonline.com for a really nicely written perspective about celebrating anniversaries from a ten-year cancer survivor here.

June 2020 Notable News

It’s officially summer so grab a cup of coffee and soak up some vitamin D because this month we learn that both of those things can help prevent cancer. We also learn about the recall of a popular drug and the approval of some others. In addition, there’s a new blood test to diagnose liver cancer and some tips on how to recognize skin cancer. Finally, research shows that COVID-19 remains a very real threat, especially for cancer patients.

Vitamin D and Coffee Benefits

With so much going on, your vitamin D status may not be on your mind, but you might want to give it some thought, reports sciencedaily.com. It turns out that a good vitamin D status is good for cancer prevention and prognosis, especially for colon and blood cancers like leukemia and lymphoma. Conversely, a low vitamin D status often correlates with higher incidence of cancer and lower survival rates. You can learn more about vitamin D and cancer here.

While you’re out soaking up the vitamin D from the sun’s rays, you might want to bring your favorite cup of coffee because there’s evidence that coffee could reduce the risk of cancer, reports dailycoffeenews.com. The news comes from an update in the diet activity guidelines from the American Cancer Society. It’s not known how or why coffee seems to help prevent several types of cancers, but there’s been a decade of research that supports the claim. In addition to coffee, the American Cancer Society recommends following a healthy diet, limiting alcohol, staying active, and maintaining a healthy weight. Research shows that diet and exercise lifestyle choices are connected to 18 percent of all cancer cases in the United States. Learn more about coffee and cancer here.

Take a Look at Your Skin

All this talk about sun exposure makes it a good time to think about skin cancer. Especially since there’s room for improvement in skin cancer survival rates, says consumerreports.org. Getting to know your own skin could be the key to survival. A Consumer Reports survey found that only 52 percent of Americans have their skin regularly checked by a doctor. There’s debate about whether or not everyone should see a dermatologist every year, but early detection of skin cancer makes a big difference. When skin cancer is found early treatment is relatively non-invasive and early stage melanoma has a 98 percent survival rate. So, whether you see a doctor or not, you should perform monthly skin checks of your own. Get familiar with the moles and marks on your skin and look for any that don’t seem to fit in. If you find something that looks irregular, let your doctor know. Learn more and find examples of what skin cancer looks like here.

Metformin Hydrochloride Recall

While you’re checking your skin, you might also need to check your list of medications. A popular diabetes drug has been recalled due to cancer risk, reports webmd.com. All lots of metformin hydrochloride extended release 500 mg tablets were recalled due to the possibility that they contained high levels of N-Nitrosodimethylamine (NDMA) which is a chemical thought to cause cancer. A test by the United States Food and Drug Administration (FDA) found higher than allowed levels of NDMA in one lot of metformin. Get more information about the recall here.

FDA Expands Indication for Gardasil 9

The FDA has given accelerated approval for the use of a vaccine to prevent head and neck cancers, reports statnews.com. The human papilloma virus (HPV) vaccine, Gardasil 9, is recommended for both males and females ages 9 through 45 to prevent several cancers. However, the vaccine was not previously recommended as prevention for head and neck cancers even though they are commonly caused by HPV in the United States. The hope is that, by including head and neck cancers in the list of cancers the vaccine prevents, it will raise awareness for and help prevent the occurrence of these types of cancers. Find more about Gardasil here.

Good News for Thyroid and Non-Small Cell Lung Cancer

The FDA has also given accelerated approval for a drug to treat thyroid and lung cancer, says cancer.gov. The drug selpercatinib (Retevmo) will treat people with thyroid or non-small cell lung cancer with tumors that have a gene alteration called RET. The drug blocks the RET proteins and was shown to shrink tumors. Selpercatinib has fewer side effects than older RET blocking drugs. Accelerated approval means that, although the drug has not gone through all required levels of testing, it can be approved for use, but testing must continue while the product is on the market. The process is only used for drugs that treat serious or life-threatening diseases without better treatment options. Learn more about the accelerated approval of selpercatinib here.

Combatting Nausea

There’s another drug of note this month giving hope to advanced cancer patients who have nausea and vomiting, says cancer.gov. In a study conducted by the National Cancer Institute the drug olanzapine (Zyprexa) was found to reduce nausea and vomiting in advanced cancer patients. Olanzapine is an antipsychotic medication mainly used to treat bipolar disorder and schizophrenia and has also been used off-label to prevent nausea and vomiting in cancer patients. Learn more here.

Detecting Liver Cancer

The National Cancer Institute was also involved in a study where a blood test has been developed to determine which people are most likely to develop liver cancer, says cancer.gov. The simple blood test is used to check for exposure to certain viruses that lead to the development of hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC) which is the most common form of liver cancer. The test could help lead to early diagnosis and treatment. Most patients with HCC are diagnosed when the cancer is advanced and incurable, but when caught early the prognosis is much better. With HCC on the rise in the US, a test that could help with early detection is welcome news. Learn more about the testing here.

COVID-19 Update

The not-so-welcome news continues about the novel coronavirus. There are some new studies that emphasize the danger of the coronavirus for cancer patients, reports apnews.com. The studies showed that current and former cancer patients who developed COVID-19 were more likely to die within a month than people without cancer. One study showed that 13 percent of cancer patients with COVID-19 died. Another study found the death rate to be 28 percent. The studies are a reminder of how critical it is for cancer patients to do all they can to follow safety guidelines so they can avoid contracting the virus. Find out more here.

Notable News: December 2019

While 2019 is nearing its end, there are all kinds of new beginnings in cancer research. Scientists are finding new and exciting discoveries that could lead to fine-tuned cancer treatments specific to each person, each type of cancer, and each response the body has to treatment. Using tropical flowers, mitochondria, and an off switch for cells, researchers keep finding new paths to treatment for even the most difficult and deadly cancers. Of course, that doesn’t mean we need to forget about prevention; there continues to be new information about how our lifestyles could affect our cancer risk, right down to our hair color.

A trip to the hair salon might mean an increased cancer risk, reports ecowatch.com. A study by the National Institutes of Health shows that permanent hair dyes and chemical hair straighteners might put women at an increased risk for cancer. The study found that women who used permanent hair color were nine percent more likely to get breast cancer. Black women, though less likely to use hair dye, had the most notable risk. They showed a 45 percent higher risk of developing breast cancer. Women who used hair straighteners had an 18 percent higher risk of breast cancer. Frequency of use posed a problem, too. Hair products can contain more than 5,000 chemicals, including formaldehyde, which is a known carcinogen. This study’s findings aren’t enough to draw a definitive link between the hair products and breast cancer, and no warnings have been issued about using hair products, but the findings do indicate that more research needs to be done to determine whether or not there is a connection. Read more about this study here.

Wouldn’t it be great if you could just switch off a cell to prevent tumors from growing and spreading? It might be possible, reports medicalxpress.com. Researchers have discovered what could be a new cancer immunotherapy treatment for patients who haven’t responded to other types of immunotherapy. The study, done on mice, shows that many tumors display the molecule MR1, which keeps the body from fighting the cancer cells. Researchers found that when they gave the mice an antibody that blocked the MR1 cell, cancer fighting cells could come in to slow cancer growth and prevent it from spreading. With this new information, doctors would be able to screen patients to see if they have the MR1 cell, and determine if they would respond to the potential new immunotherapy. Researchers now want to apply what they’ve learned to human tumors. You can learn more about the findings here.

Another treatment-related discovery is that there might be an alarm at the molecular level that serves as an alert when cancers have become resistant to treatment, reports sciencedaily.com. Mitochondria, which are present in most cells, can sense DNA stress which can indicate when cancer cells have developed resistance to chemotherapy, researchers found. The findings could lead to new cancer treatments that would prevent chemotherapy resistance, making it more effective. See the details about this discovery here.

Also from sciencedaily.com, we’ve learned that a tropical flower might hold the answer to treating pancreatic cancer. The plant, Uvaria Grandiflora, grows in Malaysia, Indonesia, Thailand, and the Philippines, and its flower contains a chemical that researchers have used as a model to create three new molecules which they hope could treat pancreatic cancer. All three of the molecules have shown that they kill pancreatic cancer cells in a Petri dish, and while the potential drug trials are more than five years away, these molecules could become new drugs for treating pancreatic cancer that would be more effective and less toxic than current treatments. You can find more information here.

As you say goodbye to 2019, we hope you will continue to say hello to Patient Empowerment Network. We will continue to provide you the latest in cancer research news as we continue in our mission to empower patients, family members, and caregivers in innovative ways. We’re particularly proud of our digital sherpa™ program, which you can learn more about at voice.ons.org. Learn how the sherpas are used to enhance the experience of patients and nurses as told by Regina White, RN, MS, OCN at Moffitt Cancer Center in Tampa, Florida. Check it out here.

Happy, Healthy, New Year to all!

6 Effective Ways to Prevent Degenerative Diseases

Your health is influenced by viruses and bacteria, your genes and your environment – which are not all within your control. But lifestyle factors also play an important role in developing and preventing illness. Have a look at some simple steps you can take to significantly improve your health and prevention of cancer, cardiovascular disease, diabetes, and other age-related disease.

1. Reach and Keep A Health Weight

Reaching a desirable body weight is a huge first step in improving your health and resistance to preventable degenerative diseases such as cancer, cardiovascular disease, diabetes, periodontal gum disease, macular degeneration, and other age-related maladies.

You can find many charts online that calculate your body mass index (BMI) based on your height and weight. To fall in a healthful range, your BMI should be between 18.5 and 24.9. Reducing your body weight decreases the stress on your cardiovascular system and also lowers your risk to heart disease, since fatty tissues contain high levels of reactive oxygen species called free radicals. These free radicals age your cardiovascular system, cause deposits of plaque in your arteries, and damage your DNA, resulting in several types of cancer.

Therefore, having a lower body mass and less fatty tissue reduces the number of free radicals in your body, which in turn reduces the aging of your body and improves your protection against these degenerative diseases.

2. Begin a Regular Exercise Program

After consulting your physician or healthcare provider, you should start a regular

program. You don’t need to run a marathon or work out 8 hours in the gym every day. Just a sensible exercise program that includes aerobic exercise (which stimulates the cardiovascular system) and anaerobic (muscle-strengthening) exercise. And remember, you don’t need to do it all at once. Most health experts recommend 30 minutes of vigorous exercise three times a week. Your exercise program could include walking, hiking, running, aerobics, playing vigorous sports such as tennis and golf, and workouts in the gym. By exercising, you will burn calories that otherwise would be accumulated as body weight and reduce your BMI. Aerobic exercises also have the added benefit of suppressing your appetite.

3. Improve Your Diet

All of you know what happens to apples once they are sliced – they turn brown due to oxidation from free radicals. A common way to prevent this oxidation process is to pour lemon juice onto the slices, thereby keeping the apple slices looking fresh. Lemon juice contains vitamin C, an antioxidant that neutralizes free radicals and prevents damage to the apple slices. Similarly, this is exactly what happens in the human body: free radicals are generated, causing aging of our bodies and age-related diseases such as cancer and heart disease.

As you probably guessed, our bodies also produced protective antioxidants that minimize damage from free radicals. How many antioxidants do our bodies produce? Well, the levels depend on many factors: our genetics, our diet, stress levels, and such factors as sun exposure, radiation, exercise, and others. As it turns out, our diet is hugely influential on levels of these valuable antioxidants. And generally speaking, our Western fast-paced lifestyle with fast food diets increases our risk of getting cancer, heart attacks, strokes, diabetes, and other age-related diseases. Our bodies simply were not designed to eat the mass quantities of fried, fatty, and sugary foods we now consume. However, there is an answer to preventing scary degenerative diseases. We need to replace these unhealthy fatty and sugary foods with raw food such as fresh fruits and vegetables since these are all foods contain high levels of natural antioxidants.

4. Have Your Body Antioxidant Level Scanned

Until about 8 years ago, it was almost impossible to know the actual state of our immune system and how well we were preventing degenerative diseases. Prior to that time it was possible to submit a blood or tissue sample to be subjected to an expensive and time-consuming laboratory analysis called HPLC to determine body antioxidant levels. However, due to cost factors and the fact that almost no one wanted to submit a painful and invasive blood and tissue samples to determine their antioxidants scores, very few people had much of an idea of how healthy they actually were.

All of this changed with the development and release of a small, portable machine that painlessly and inexpensively scans the palm of the hand to arrive at a skin antioxidant score. Also, this skin antioxidant score has been proven through hundreds of independent studies to prove a measure of overall body antioxidant scores. So wha this means is that for the first time we can now determine our body antioxidant scores non-invasively to see how well we are resisting aging processes and protecting ourselves against cancers and cardiovascular disease. But even more importantly, we can now quantitatively measure the changes we make in our lives such as reduce stress, improve diet, exercise, and environmental factors. This is certainly groundbreaking in that we can take steps to prevent these types of diseases. The antioxidants found in green tea make it one of the healthiest beverages which produce powerful effects in your body. The beneficial effects of it include improved brain function, loss of excess fat, reduced risk of cancer, and many other unbelievable benefits.

5. Take Dietary Supplements

Science has allowed us to take plants and concentrate their naturally occurring antioxidants into pill form so that we can vastly increase our antioxidant levels. Most of you are aware of vitamin and mineral supplements that promise to raise our antioxidant levels, however, until the advent of skin antioxidant scanner, no one could effectively know how well the supplements actually raise antioxidant levels nor would the manufacturers guarantee that the supplements were effective. Now that we have the scanner, we can answer these questions quantitatively. Moreover, we can also design supplements that are proven to raise body antioxidant scores and result in disease protection along with a money-back guarantee that your scores will increase.

6. Take Genetic Expression Supplements

Some of you may be aware that the US government poured billions of dollars into the Human Genome Project that was completed in the year 2000. this project allowed for the sequencing of genes contained in our DNA. It is these genes that produce (express) in a pattern that make each one of us the unique and individual that we are. Accordingly, many companies have identified single or groups of genes that Express these proteins in the attempt to determine which genes are responsible for certain characteristics and life processes. then we can influence these genes to change their activity, and therefore, our characteristics. While we cannot change our genes, we can indeed change their expression. One advanced company has identified 52 genes and our mitochondrial DNA involved with cellular energy processes that are responsible for natural aging processes.

Reducing Your Risk of Cancer

The American Institute for Cancer Research (AICR) estimates that approximately one-third of cases of the most common cancers in the U.S. could be prevented, which accounts for about 374,000 cases of cancer per year. Cancer prevention is action taken to lower the chance of getting cancer therefore reducing the burden and deaths from cancer each year. Since February is Cancer Prevention Month, we wanted to highlight some ways to reduce your risk and protect yourself from cancer.

1. Eat a healthy diet & Stay active

Eating a balanced plant-based diet filled with a variety of vegetables, fruits, soy, nuts, whole grains, and beans can help lower your risk for many types of cancer and will help you maintain a healthy weight.

Adults should get et at least 150 minutes of moderate intensity or 75 minutes of vigorous intensity activity each day (or a combination of these), preferably spread throughout the week. While children and teens are recommended to get at least 1 hour of moderate or vigorous intensity activity each day, with at least 2.5 hours of moderate intensity aerobic activity each week.

2. Protect yourself from the sun

Sun exposure at any age can cause skin cancer. Be especially careful in the sun if you burn easily, spend a lot of time outdoors, or have any of the following physical features:

  • Numerous, irregular, or large moles
  • Freckles
  • Fair skin
  • Blond, red, or light brown hair

To block UV rays try covering-up, wearing sunscreen, wearing a hat, using UV-absorbent shades, and limiting you exposure time.

3. Get immunized

The human papillomavirus (HPV) vaccine helps prevent most cervical cancers and several other kinds of cancer, and the hepatitis B vaccine can help lower liver cancer risk.

4. Avoid risky behavior

Another effective cancer prevention tactic is to avoid risky behaviors that can lead to infections that, in turn, might increase the risk of cancer. Some behaviors to avoid:

  • Excessive alcohol consumption
  • Tanning beds
  • Tobacco use
  • Unsafe sex
  • Sharing needles

5. Get regular medical care and screenings

Along with regular check-ups with your physician to maintain an open health dialogue, cancer screenings should also be scheduled. These include the following:

  • Pap smear – Most women ages 21 to 65 should get Pap tests as part of routine health care. Even if you are not currently sexually active, you should still have a Pap test
  • Colonoscopy – Colon cancer screening should begin at age 50 for most people. If a colonoscopy doesn’t find adenomas or cancer and you don’t have risk factors, the next test should be in ten years.
  • Mammogram – Women should should get mammograms every year starting at age 40, for as long as a woman is in good health
  • Checking skin for irregular moles, etc.

Sources:

https://www.cdc.gov/cancer/dcpc/prevention/

http://www.mcancer.org/cancer-prevention

http://www.mayoclinic.org/healthy-lifestyle/adult-health/in-depth/cancer-prevention/art-20044816

https://www.osha.gov/Publications/OSHA3166/osha3166.html

An Ounce of Prevention is Worth a Pound of Cure

An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure. It creates a sense of awareness and provides a window of opportunity for you. Sometimes it is a matter of accountability and sometimes it is about breaking old patterns.

When my father was diagnosed with heart disease many years ago, we started eating and cooking differently. That didn’t change my dad’s ways and he ultimately died of heart disease at 62 years old. I remember he used to eat and drink things that weren’t good for him and joke about it with me and then say: “Don’t tell mommy.” That was his choice. I made a different choice long before his passing to eat healthier. If I did eat things that weren’t healthy, my body sent signals to me that these foods weren’t acceptable to me anymore.

When my mom was in treatment for ovarian cancer I found myself in Medical Libraries looking for clinical trials that would save her. When she passed it was a catalyst for me to look into prevention for my own health. I went for genetic testing at NYU Medical Center. While I don’t carry the gene for breast cancer, I have to be cautious because of the history of cancer in my family. I diligently pursued my annual gynecologist exams and additional ovary scans and blood work. Additionally, I followed up with my 6-12 month mammograms.

The result of my taking my own action on proactivity toward prevention was a diagnosis of stage 1 invasive lobular breast cancer. To take it a step further, I was originally advised by my breast surgeon to only have one breast removed. I followed my intuition and chose a double mastectomy and that resulted in even more prevention. When my surgery was completed, I was told that the other breast was pre-cancerous. If I hadn’t been my own best advocate, I would have found myself in the same shoes at another time.

Since I was diagnosed at an early stage my Oncotype couldn’t justify chemo treatment either way, but I remain on Tamoxifen therapy for probably another seven years.

I have also been discussing ovary obliteration with my oncologist and another specialist because of my lineage of cancer. In all likelihood, I will have my ovaries removed sometime this year.

When I finished treatment for breast cancer and had reconstruction surgeries, I thought to myself: “Now what? Hmmm, I have focused for a year and a half on my breasts, now it’s time to get back to the taking care of my other body parts and I got back on schedule with my dentist, gynecologist and internist all in the name of self-care and prevention as I lead my busy life balancing career, family, fun and connection with others. I knew that if I didn’t exercise extreme self-care, I would be much good to others.

About a week ago, I am finished up 4 and 5 of Moh’s surgeries to remove skin cancers from my body. In order practice prevention, we have to know our bodies, face fear and get checked out.

In some cases, I do know that even prevention is not a cure, because my mother was one who religiously (not in a hypochondria mode) went to all of her doctors’ appointments, pap smears, etc., and still she was diagnosed with late stage ovarian cancer. The bottom line is prevention cannot hurt us like lacking in self-love will.

So….., what can YOU do to take an active part in your health? What does practicing prevention look like to you? It could be something as simple as changing your diet or scheduling doctor’s appointments that we hesitate to make because we are always caring for someone else. It could also be taking care of yourself in terms of mind and spirit and working on stress reduction? In what ways can you reduce stress and overload in your life?

This blog is being shared to create awareness and remove fear. Know your body! You are the only one who does. Practice prevention and self-care. Put yourself first so that you can be around to care for others. That is my message and my gift to you on this beautiful day!

If you need help in this area or any other area of your cancer experience, reach out to me gina@newbeginningswithgina.com or visit my website: www.newbeginningswithgina.com.

I look forward to hearing from you!

Xo Gina