October is Breast Cancer Awareness month, symbol of which is the pink ribbon. I couldn’t let the month go by without lending a voice to the cause that I know is a major issue for women and men around the world.
Even though breast cancer is the most popular form of cancer, there are other forms and there are things that can be done to minimize the associated risks;
First off, you should know how your breasts normally look and feel and report any changes to your doctor right away.
- All women should be familiar with the known benefits, limitations, and potential harms linked to breast cancer screening;
- Women ages 40 to 44 should have the choice to start annual breast cancer screening with mammograms if they wish to do so.
- Women age 45 to 54 should get mammograms every year.
- Women 55 and older should switch to mammograms every 2 years, or can continue yearly screening.
- Screening should continue as long as a woman is in good health and is expected to live 10 more years or longer.
Some women – because of their family history, a genetic tendency, or certain other factors – should be screened with MRIs along with mammograms. Talk with your doctor about your risk for breast cancer and the best screening plan for you.
Cervical cancer testing should start at age 21. Women under age 21 should not be tested.
- Women between the ages of 21 and 29 should have a Pap test done every 3 years. HPV ( human papillomavirus) testing should not be used in this age group unless it’s needed after an abnormal Pap test result.
- Women between the ages of 30 and 65 should have a Pap test plus an HPV test (called “co-testing”) done every 5 years. This is the preferred approach, but it’s OK to have a Pap test alone every 3 years.
- Women over age 65 who have had regular cervical cancer testing in the past 10 years with normal results should not be tested for cervical cancer. Once testing is stopped, it should not be started again. Women with a history of a serious cervical pre-cancer should continue to be tested for at least 20 years after that diagnosis, even if testing goes past age 65.
Some women – because of their health history (HIV infection, organ transplant, DES exposure, etc.) – may need a different screening schedule for cervical cancer. Talk to your doctor about your history.
The American Cancer Society does not recommend tests to check for lung cancer in people who are at average risk. Screening might be right for you if you are all of the following:
- 55 to 74 years of age
- In good health
- Have at least a 30 pack-year smoking history AND are either still smoking or have quit within the last 15 years (A pack-year is the number of cigarette packs smoked each day multiplied by the number of years a person has smoked. Someone who smoked a pack of cigarettes per day for 30 years has a 30 pack-year smoking history, as does someone who smoked 2 packs a day for 15 years.)
According to the prostatecanceruk.org, 1 in 4 African men will get prostate cancer at some point in their lives.
Starting at age 50, men should talk to a doctor about the pros and cons of testing so they can decide if testing is the right choice for them. However, if you are African or have a father or brother who had prostate cancer before age 65, you should have this talk starting at age 45.
CANCER RELATED CHECK-UPS
For people aged 20 or older who get periodic health exams, a cancer-related check-up should include health counseling and, depending on a person’s age and gender, exams for cancers of the thyroid, oral cavity, skin, lymph nodes, testes, and ovaries, as well as for some other diseases besides cancer.
Take control of your health, and help reduce your cancer risk.
- Stay away from all forms of tobacco: Dear all, there’s no such thing as a “social smoker”!
- Get to and stay at a healthy weight: Check your BMI for an indication.
- Get moving with regular physical activity: You can get a fitness tracker to stay in control of this.
- Eat healthy with plenty of fruits and vegetables: They always say, the more colorful your plate of food is, the better
- Limit alcohol intake: Nothing wrong with JUST the occasional glass of red wine, if you absolutely must.
- Protect your skin: Yes, those sunscreen lotions you find on store shelves are for this purpose.
- To thyself be true: Know yourself, your family history, and your risks.
- Get regular check-ups and cancer screening tests.
- Check out this site http://www.nationalbreastcancer.org/our-programs