It’s Not Just Pink - Take Charge of Your Health to Maintain a Cancer-Free Lifestyle
As businesses across our area create a pink wave for Breast Cancer Awareness Month in October, you may be wondering why breast cancer gets so much attention compared to other types of cancer.
Besides skin cancer, breast cancer is the most diagnosed cancers in women. Breast cancer is so widespread that it affects one in eight women in their lifetimes, and roughly every two minutes a woman in our country receives a breast cancer diagnosis.
When we consider the prevalence of breast cancer and the effectiveness of regular screening, it makes sense to promote breast cancer awareness in October and throughout the year. At the same time, there are steps you can take now to prevent all kinds of cancer, working closely with your doctor.
The choices you make about diet, exercise and other habits can affect your overall health, as well as your risk for developing cancer and other serious diseases, said Kerry Standley, Nurse Practitioner at UNC Primary Care at Goldsboro.
“It’s also important to talk to your provider and follow recommendations for screenings tests used to find cancer in people before they are symptomatic,” said Standley. “Screening gives you the best chance for early detection, often expanding your choices of effective treatment options.”
Healthy Lifestyle Choices for All Ages
To support a cancer-free lifestyle, Standley suggests:
- Avoiding tobacco: If you chew or smoke tobacco, stop. For more resources call 1-800-227-2345.
- Maintain a healthy weight: Being overweight or obese can increase your risk for many types of cancer. Control your weight by avoiding excessive weight gain, and balancing caloric intake with physical activity.
- Eat a balanced diet: Watch your portion sizes, and try to eat vegetables, fruits and whole grains, limiting foods high in fat and sugar.
- Exercise regularly: Experts recommend 150-300 minutes of moderate-intensity physical activity or 75-150 minutes of vigorous-intensity activity (or a combination) per week. For children and teens, strive for at least one hour of moderate or vigorous intensity activity every day.
- Limit alcohol: If you drink, have no more than one drink per day for women or two per day for men. A drink is 12 ounces of regular beer, five ounces of wine or 1 ½ ounces of 80-proof distilled spirits.
If you are at increased risk of colon cancer, due to family history, genetic disorders or other factors, talk to a health care provider about when you need to start testing and what tests are right for you.
Starting at age 45 men at higher than average risk of prostate cancer should talk with a doctor about the risks and benefits of being tested. Men with more than one close relative who had prostate cancer before age 65 are at even higher risk and should talk to a doctor about testing starting at age 40.
If you’re at average risk for colon cancer, begin screening at 50.
Starting at age 50, all men of average risk should talk to a health care provider about the risks and benefits of testing.
Men age 55 and older should talk to a health care provider about their smoking history and whether to get a yearly low-dose CT scan to screen for early lung cancer. Screening may benefit if you are an active or former smoker, have no signs of lung cancer and have a 30 pack-year smoking history (A pack-year is one pack of cigarettes per day per year).
Testing is recommended through age 75. People age 76-85 should talk with their health care provider about whether continuing screening is right for them. Most people older than 85 should no longer be screened.
Know how your breasts normally look and feel and report any changes to a health care provider right away. If you are at higher than average risk, talk to your health care provider about when you need to start getting mammograms or other screening tests.
At age 21, all women with a cervix should begin screening for cervical cancer.
If you are at a higher than average risk for colon cancer due to family history, genetic disorders or other factors, talk to your health care provider about when you need to start testing and which tests are right for you.
Women ages 40-44 should have the choice to start annual breast cancer screening with mammograms if they wish to do so. Starting at age 45, they should get mammograms every year.
All people at average risk should start testing at age 45.
Women age 55 and older should talk to a health care provider about their smoking history and whether to get a yearly low-dose CT scan to screen for early lung cancer. Screening may benefit if you are an active or former smoker, have no signs of lung cancer and have a 30 pack-year smoking history (A pack-year is one pack of cigarettes per day per year).
After age 65, women should get a mammogram at least every two years.
No testing is needed if you’ve had regular cervical cancer testing with normal results during the previous 10 years or after surgery that removed the cervix as long as it was done for reasons not related to cervical cancer or pre-cancer. Women with a history of a serious cervical pre-cancer should continue testing for 25 years after that diagnosis.
Testing is recommended up through age 75. People ages 76-85 should talk with their health care provider about whether continued screening is right for them. Most people over age 85 should no longer be screened.