Cancer Control - Awareness Information
- General Information
- Prostate Cancer
- Skin Cancer
- Colorectal Cancer
- Breast Cancer
- Lung Cancer
- Radon Awareness
- Cervical Cancer
Reducing cancer risk factors may help prevent certain types of cancer. Risk factors include smoking, being overweight and lack of exercise. Protective factors include not smoking, avoiding second hand smoke, eating a healthy diet with lots of fruits and vegetables, and being physically active every day.
Screening is an important tool to look for cancer before a person has any symptoms. Screening can often find caner at an early stage, making treatment easier and cure more probable. By the time symptoms appear, the cancer may have begun to spread. Screening is most common for cancers of the breast, colon, and cervix.
Risk factors are anything that would increase your chances of getting a disease. Some risk factors are under your control; some are not. However, just because you have a risk factor or two does not necessarily mean that you will get the disease. It just means you are at a greater risk.
Risk reduction are things you can do to reduce your risk. Routine screenings and Early detection are important parts of risk reduction.
Warning signs are some of the signs and symptoms of the disease in it's early stages.
- Over the age of 50
- African American
- Having a father, brother, or son who was diagnosed with prostate cancer before age 65
- Eating a diet high in saturated fat
- Being overweight
- Eat plenty of fruits and vegetables.
- Limit foods that are high in saturated fats, such as red meats and high-fat dairy products.
- Get to and stay at a healthy weight.
- Talk to your doctor about the pros and cons of prostate cancer testing.
- Consider a yearly PSA blood test and digital rectal exam starting at age 50, or at age 45 if you are at high risk.
A man with prostate cancer may not have any warning signs or symptoms. Common symptoms include:
- Urinary problems
- Difficulty having an erection
- Blood in urine or semen
- Frequent pain in the lower back, hips or upper thighs
Information taken from American Cancer Society Prevention and Early Detection Worksheet for Men.
There are 2 types of skin cancer: nonmelanoma, and melanoma. Nonmelanoma is more common, and the risk factors are NOT the same:
Risk factors for nonmelanoma:
- Amount of time the skin is exposed to UV radiation (sunshine)
- Skin that is easily sunburned
Risk factors for melanoma:
- Exposure to strong UV radiation (sunburns), especially in childhood and teen years
- Skin that is easily sunburned, or has a lot of freckles or moles
Risk reduction: Slip, Slop, Slap and Wrap!
- Slip on a shirt to protect your skin.
- Slop on sun screen with at least SPF 15.
- Slap on a hat to protect your face and ears.
- Wrap on sunglasses to protect your eyes.
- Limit time in the sun between 11 am and 3 pm.
Regular examination of your skin by both you and your doctor increases the chance of finding skin cancer early. Friends and family members can also help by telling one another about abnormal-looking areas of the skin.
- A new growth
- A spot or bump that is getting larger
- A sore that doesn't heal within 3 months
Melanomas can be evaluated using the ABCD method.
Skin Cancer Prevention and Early Detection - American Cancer Society
HealthyFinder.gov - Protect your skin from the sun.
Colorectal cancer starts in the tissues of the colon or the rectum.
It affects both men and women of all racial and ethnic groups, and is
most often found in people aged 50 years or older.
In Montana, approximately 470 people are newly diagnosed and 170 die from it each year. Cancer in Montana 2003-2007, MT Central Tumor Registry Annual Report, 2009
Colorectal cancer screening can find precancerous polyps which can be removed before turning into cancer. Screening also helps find colorectal cancer at an early stage, when treatment often leads to a cure.
(Polyps are abnormal growths that protrude from the inner wall of the colon or rectum. They are relatively common in people over age 50. Most polyps are benign (noncancerous), but experts believe that the majority of colorectal cancers develop in polyps known as adenomas. Detecting and removing these growths may help prevent colorectal cancer.)
- Age - risk increases after age 40
- Lack of exercise
- Excessive use of alcohol
- Family history
- Eat a healthy diet high in fruits and vegetables
- Maintain a healthy body weight
- Be physically active every day
- Do not smoke
- Avoid exposure to second-hand smoke
- If you must drink alcohol, do so in moderation
- Get screened with a colonoscopy or similar diagnostic test at age 50
- If you have a family history of colorectal cancer consider earlier colonoscopy or genetic testing
- Blood in or on your stool
- A change in normal bowel habits (diarrhea or constipation)
- Frequent or constant cramps for more than a few days
- General stomach discomfort such as bloating or fullness
Colorectal cancer is almost entirely preventable with screening:
- Colorectal cancer is the 3rd most commonly diagnosed cancer and the 2nd most common cause of cancer death in the U.S.
- 160 Montanans died of colorectal caner in 2007.
- In 2006, approximately 63% of Montanans over age 50 were screened.
- 140,000 Montana adults are in need of colorectal screening.
- With the current trend, by 2020, 160,000 Montana adults will be in need of screening.
The U.S. Preventive Services Task Force (USPSTF) recommends
colorectal cancer screening for all men and women aged 50-75 and earlier
than age 50 if at increased risk due to a personal or family history or
risk factors. Evidence shows that cancer deaths can be prevented
by following screening recommendations for colorectal cancer.
Screening test recommendations from the USPSTF include:
- Every year: high-sensitivity fecal occult blood testing (FOBT) OR
- Every five years: flexible sigmoidoscopy with high-sensitivity fecal occult blood testing every 3 years OR
- Every ten years: colonoscopy
An informed decision-making discussion between individuals and their health care provider determines which test is best for them. The best test is the one completed.
Many insurance plans and Medicare help pay for colorectal cancer screening tests. Check with your plan to find out which tests are covered for you.
If you are unable to pay for a colorectal cancer screening test, assistance may be available to you through the Montana Cancer Screening Program. A limited numbers of screenings are available for underinsured and un-insured Montanans who qualify. Call 1-888-803-9343.
Colon Cancer - American Cancer Society
Colorectal Cancer - National Cancer Institute
Risk factors out of your control:
Lifestyle related factors:
|Gender||Not having children|
|Race and ethnicity||Having children later in life|
|Genetic risk factors||Being overweight or obese|
|Personal history||Lack of physical activity|
|Family history||Not breastfeeding|
|Dense breast tissue||Oral contraceptive use|
|Menstruation history||Post-menopausal hormone therapy|
- Breast Self Exams (BSE): Women should begin these in their 20s. How to do a Self Breast Exam
- Clinical Breast Exams: Women in their 20s and 30s should heave a clinical breast exam (CBE) as part of regular health exam at least every 3 years. Women 40 and older should have a CBE every year.
- Mammograms: Women 40 and older should have a mammogram every year. Women younger than 40 with risk factors should ask the health care provider about having a mammogram.
- a new lump or mass (found by self, clinical or mammogram)
- swelling of all or part of a breast (even if no distinct lump is felt)
- skin irritation or dimpling
- breast or nipple pain
- nipple retraction (turning inward)
- a discharge other than breast milk
Lung cancer is the leading cause of cancer death among both men and women in Montana.
People who smoke a pack of cigarettes a day are 10 times more likely to develop lung cancer than non-smokers.
Approximately 85% of lung cancer is attributable to smoking.
Cigarette smoking is the leading preventable cause of death in Montana and the United States.
- Exposure to tobacco in any form
- Exposure to second-hand smoke
- Exposure to arsenic, radon or asbestos
- Exposure to air pollution
- Do not use tobacco in any form.
- If you use tobacco, quit.
- Create smoke-free environments in your home and community.
A spiral CT scan can detect early lung cancer in people who are smokers and former smokers.
In early stages, there may be no symptoms. In later stages, these signs may appear:
- Persistent cough
- Sputum (spit) streaked with blood
- Chest pain
- Recurring pneumonia or bronchitis
- Weight loss and loss of appetite
Radon is a colorless, odorless, tasteless gas.
- The Surgeon General has warned that radon is the second leading cause of lung cancer in the United States.
- Only smoking causes more lung cancer deaths.
- Unsafe levels of radon can lead to serious illness.
Testing is the only way to know if radon is present.
- The U. S. Environmental Protection Agency encourages everyone to test their homes for radon. January is an especially good time to test homes and schools because windows and doors are closed tightly and people spend more time indoors.
- Test kits are available in home improvement centers and hardware stores and cost approximately $20. The kits are simple to use and they include instructions for how to mail them to a lab for the results.
- If you home tests positive for radon, simple fixes can be made to lower the health risks from radon.
Mesothelioma is a rare cancer of the mesothelium, the tissue that covers the lungs and abdominal organs. These tumors tend to spread rapidly and may not be responsive to current cancer treatments. Many patients die within two years of being diagnosed. Therefore prevention is the best way to combat this cancer.
The relationship between asbestos exposure and Mesothelioma is well
Over 70% of cases report asbestos exposure.
Limit exposure to asbestos.
- Symptoms may not appear until 30 to 50 years after exposure to asbestos
- Shortness of breath and pain in chest due to accumulation of fluid
- Swelling or lumps and pain in the abdomen
- Unexpected weight loss
Source: Mesothelioma in Montana, Sept 2005; National Cancer Institute
Cervical cancer affects over 1000 women in Montana and approximately 10,000 women in the United States each year. Cervical cancer is the second most common type of cancer for women worldwide, but because it develops over time, it is also one of the most preventable types of cancer.
- Human papilloma virus infection - American Cancer Society - HPV Info
- Smoking: Women who smoke are about twice as likely to get cervical cancer as those who don't.
- HIV infection.
- Chlamydia infection: A common kind of bacteria that can infect a woman's reproductive organs. It is spread during sex.
- Eating a diet that is low in fruits and vegetables.
- Being overweight.
- Young age at the time of first full-term pregnancy.
- Family history of cervical cancer.
- Avoid exposure to HPV. You increase your chances of getting HPV by:
- having sex at an early age
- having many sex partners
- having a partner who has had many sex partners
- having sex with men who are not circumcised
- Get the HPV vaccine.
- Use condoms. A condom can help protect against HPV, as well as HIV, other sexually transmitted diseases, and unwanted pregnancy.
- Don't smoke.
- Eat plenty of fruits and vegetables.
Getting a Pap test regularly can find precancerous changes that can be treated, so that cervical cancer is prevented; and a Pap test can find cervical cancer early, when treatment is most effective.
- For women age 20-29, a Pap test is recommended yearly.
- From age 30- 70, if Pap test history has been normal, a Pap test every 2-3 years.
- Talk with your health care provider about whether the HPV test is right for you.
The Montana Cancer Control Program offers Pap tests, diagnostic services for abnormal tests and referral to cancer treatments if necessary, for qualified women 50 and over, and for those age 30-49 who lave limited funds for women . Services are for uninsured and underinsured women who meet income guidelines. Contact 1-888-803-9343.
If you already know the basics, take a minute to learn something new:
- MT Cancer Control Programs
- National Cancer Institute
- American Cancer Society
- National Cervical Cancer Coalition
- MT Cancer Control Program Surveillance Report, Jan 2011: Preventing Cervical Cancer with Screening and HPV Vaccination
Early cervical pre-cancers or cancers often have no signs or symptoms. Symptoms that may develop when the cancer is further along include:
- Abnormal or irregular vaginal bleeding
- Pain during sex
- Unusual vaginal discharge which may be watery, thick, and possibly have a foul odor
- Pelvic pain not related to your menstrual cycle
- Bleeding after menopause
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