Do you smoke?
Is being physically active low on your priority list…or not on it at all?
Are you overweight?
Do your dinners often involve a drive-through?
If you answered “yes” to any of the above, you have an increased risk of developing cancer at some point in your life.
What is cancer prevention?
Cancer prevention is action taken to lower the chance of getting cancer.
According to the National Cancer Institute, more than 1.6 million people in the United States will be diagnosed with cancer this year. Many things in our genes, our lifestyle, and our environment can increase or decrease our risk of getting cancer.
“Most childhood cancers are due to inherited genetics,” said Mark D. Romer, MD, oncologist with Dayton Physicians Network. “Conversely, 50 percent of adult cancers are preventable, simply by having regular health screenings and living an overall healthier lifestyle.”
The big four
There are four risk factors that if present, are indicative of an increased risk for developing cancer: tobacco use, inactivity, poor diet, and being overweight.
“People make the connection between obesity and an increased risk of diabetes, but they don’t make the connection between obesity and cancer. It very much exists,” said Dr. Romer.
>>> RELATED: Smoking and Cancer
Lifestyle choices may reduce your risk
By making smarter, healthier lifestyle choices, you can significantly reduce your risk for developing cancer. Dr. Romer recommends the following:
- Avoid tobacco of any kind. This includes cigarettes, cigars and smokeless tobacco.
- Get moving. “Three-and-a-half hours of activity per week is considered reasonable,” said Dr. Romer. “It’s a just a matter of dedicating time to getting your heart rate up.”
- Maintain a healthy weight
- Obtain nutrients from a healthy diet. “Many doctors talk about the benefits of a Mediterranean diet, which is rich in fruits and vegetables, whole grains, and less red meat,” explained Dr. Romer. “There is no data to support that taking vitamins and minerals reduces your risk for cancer. If you need more vitamin C, eat an apple instead of popping a vitamin C pill.”
- Moderate your alcohol use
- Protect against sexually transmitted disease
- Avoid excessive sun exposure
Routine medical care
Women should be vigilant about their annual exams.
- Mammogram – Women age 40 and older should have a breast cancer screening every year and continue for as long as they are in good health, or up to age 70 if there are no risk factors. Regular monthly self-exams and yearly physician exams also are important.
- Pap smear – This cervical cancer screening should begin for women at age 21
Men have specific health concerns to watch for, as well.
- CT – For early lung cancer detection, a computed tomography (CT) scan of the chest is recommended every two years for men after age 55 who smoke 30 packs a year or more.
- PSA blood test – “We advise men to discuss with their primary care physician as to whether or not this test is beneficial/necessary,” said Dr. Romer.
>>> RELATED: 6 reasons a prostate cancer screening is important
Both men and women should consider:
- Colonoscopy – Beginning at age 50, men and women at average risk for colorectal cancer should have an annual colonoscopy.
- Gardasil – Both men and women between ages 9-26 can get the vaccine. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the Human Papillomavirus (HPV) is a very common infection. In fact, most people – about nine-in-ten – will get an HPV infection at some point in their lives. The Gardasil HPV vaccine is safe and effective for preventing HPV.
“Of course, there are times when, despite having no family history and living a healthy lifestyle, someone ends up getting cancer,” said Dr. Romer. “But there’s something to be said for erring on the side of optimism and doing everything you can on your end to decrease your risk.”
Other than skin cancer, prostate cancer is the second-most common cancer among men in the United States. According to the American Cancer Society, about 1-in-7 men will be diagnosed with prostate cancer during his lifetime, with more than 160,000 new cases estimated for 2017 alone.
Prostate cancer screening tests, such as the digital rectal exam (DRE) and the prostate specific antigen (PSA) blood test, allow doctors to detect the disease in its earliest stages, before symptoms appear, increasing the odds of a patient making a full and complete recovery.
Here are six excellent reasons why you should have a prostate screening…
1. Screening tests may detect prostate cancer early: Men should begin screening tests, such as the digital rectal exam and the PSA blood test, at age 50. Those who are in a higher-risk category, especially those with male relatives who have been diagnosed with prostate cancer, should start screenings at age 40, explains Mark Monsour, M.D., urologist with Dayton Physicians Network. “Prostate cancer definitely is more prevalent in older men. However, we see a good amount of cases in younger men, as well. The youngest case I’ve seen was in a 38-year-old male,” said Dr. Monsour.
2. The tests are quick and easy: The PSA is a blood test that requires a simple draw. The digital rectal exam, which allows the doctor to check for any abnormalities of the prostate, may not be an experience that most put at the top of their “fun things to do” list, but it is simple and effective in its purpose.
3. Testing can uncover prostate cancer before the symptoms appear: One of the most worrying aspects of prostate cancer lies in the fact that, in its earliest stages, there often are no symptoms. “If left undetected, the disease can then spread to the lymph nodes and bones. The prognosis is mostly good for men who have been screened and their disease caught early, before symptoms appear,” explained Dr. Monsour. “However, some men might experience things like pain and/or burning when urinating, blood in the urine, and difficulty starting or holding back urine, which could indicate the presence of prostate cancer.”
4. Prostate cancer is easier to treat and is more likely to be cured if it is diagnosed in the early stages of the disease: For men with early stage prostate cancer, treatment options typically include surgery, radiation therapy, and active surveillance.
5. Sometimes, knowing is better than not knowing: Knowledge is power. Having the screening tests can provide you with the comfort of knowing either you don’t have prostate cancer, or you do have it and can now go about treating it.
6. Cutting-edge technology makes diagnosis and treatments more successful: Doctors at Dayton Physicans Network have access to the most current technology, such as magnetic resonance (MR) and ultrasound (US) fusion-guided biopsy, to help them to provide the most accurate diagnosis and best treatment options available.
In addition to traditional open surgeries, Dayton Physicians Network also offers robotic surgery through the da Vinci Surgical System. Robotic surgical procedures can be performed through smaller incisions, resulting in reduced recovery time.
“For clinically localized prostate cancer, we often recommend a robotic prostatectomy, depending on the patient’s age and other factors,” said Dr. Monsour. “As with any surgery, there are risks associated with prostate surgery, including erectile dysfunction and incontinence. That’s why it’s important for patients to discuss treatment options with their physician to determine which plan makes the most sense.”
For over 20 years, Dayton Physicians Network Urology has been committed to providing the highest quality medical services in a compassionate and caring environment. With eight skilled urologists and three convenient locations, your network of care is always convenient for you.
If you have questions about prostate cancer screening, call Dayton Physicians Network at 937-293-1622937-293-1622.