It’s National Breast Cancer Awareness Month. So let’s talk about the risks that women face. There are many things that can affect your chances of getting cancer. Most take years to develop. While you can’t control some risk factors, like getting older, you can control several others.
Raising Cancer Awareness
There are things you can do every day to avoid getting cancer. Two of the most important things you can do are making healthy choices and getting the right screening tests.
Make Healthy Choices
- Avoid tobacco – Quitting smoking is one of the best ways to lower your cancer risk. Smoking can cause cancer almost anywhere in the body.
- Avoid secondhand smoke – If you don’t smoke, make sure you stay away from other people’s smoke.
- Protect your skin – Ultraviolet (UV) rays from the sun or artificial sources like a tanning bed, booth, or sunlamp can cause skin cancer, the most common cancer.
- Limit alcohol – Drinking alcohol raises your risk of getting six kinds of cancer, including breast cancer and colorectal cancer.
- Maintain a healthy weight – About 40% of all cancers are associated with being overweight and obese.
- Get regular exercise.
- Eat a balanced diet.
Get Cancer Screening Tests
Early detection is key when it comes to cancer. Screening tests can find cancer early when treatment works best.
Breast Cancer Screening
Mammograms are the best test to find breast cancer early. The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG) recommends that you get a mammogram every 1-2 years if you’re 50 to 74 years old and are at average risk for breast cancer, or based on a personal discussion with your doctor.
Cervical Cancer Screening
Two screening tests can help prevent cervical cancer or find it early. The Pap test (or Pap smear) looks for cell changes on the cervix that might become cervical cancer if not treated appropriately. The HPV test looks for the virus (human papillomavirus) that can cause these cell changes. Check with your Health Care Provider for age-appropriate recommendations.
Colorectal Cancer Screening
Doctors recommend getting screened for colorectal cancer soon after age 50 and regularly screened until age 75. Several screening tests are available. Talk to your doctor about which test is right for you.
Lung Cancer Screening
Yearly lung cancer screening with low dose computed tomography is recommended for women 55 to 80 years old, with a history of heavy smoking and smoke now or quit within the past 15 years.
Women are encouraged to perform regular self-exams to check for new or changing lesions that may be cancerous or precancerous. Look for an asymmetrical shape, irregular borders, presence of more than one color or even distribution of color, 6 mm or larger diameter, or changes in a mole.
Do you have concerns or questions about cancer? Contact Creekside Center for Women to schedule an appointment with one of our physicians.