FEBRUARY is Cancer Prevention Month. Thank you for joining me for another conversational blog!
Cancer prevention is not a “sexy” topic. Cancer prevention steps are commonly advertised, but not many take heed of the recommendations. Why is that? The questions received on this topic may shed some light on the reasons. Thank you for your questions regarding Cancer Prevention submitted via our HOME page. Be sure to visit our upcoming Events for information on future blogs HERE and submit your questions in advance for upcoming blogs.
Keeping the main question in focus, and in an attempt to limit the length of this blog, here are a few of the top questions we received from you at Q4CD.com
By answering these questions, the basic information about cancer prevention and benefits of lifestyle adjustment will be explained. But first, Bottom Line Up Front (cannot get away from my days of living military acronyms;)
It is true. Somethings in life can be prevented… while others cannot. Let’s be practical. Why were traffic lights and cross walks invented? The incidents from motor vehicle accidents were sky rocketing and something had to be done to “prevent” all the deaths and injuries. Traffic lights and pedestrian crosswalks do NOT eliminate ALL traffic related deaths and injuries, but it sure does keep the numbers lower than they use to be.
So, what if there was something you could do to prevent hearing the words, “you have cancer” and avoid chemotherapy, radiation and surgery? Now what you do may NOT eliminate ALL your risk of getting cancer, but it sure would make a difference for you. Sometimes, it is easier to grasp a concept when simplified in everyday terms. This is my way of saying, “please look, before you cross the road on the busy highway of life.” Now, let’s dig into answering these 7 common questions. Remember, knowledge is power…
Real Talk: When I was in the military (waaay back when), we had cigarettes break, but I never like smoking, or the smell of it. It never made sense to me, since I was assigned to the Field Artillery and then the Engineers, we are always “training” = lots of forced road marches and early morning runs. I did have a stint with a different bad habit though (see below). No guilt trip here.
No one can make you do anything you do not want to do. However, here are some information to consider, not only for you, but for your love ones who must take care of you and may choose to remain by your side – no matter what! Smoking damages your lungs. This damage can lead to cancer in over 90% of the cases, not to mention other limiting, bad diseases. Diagnosis of cancers caused by smoking can be very inconveniencing for you AND those who must care for you. If your lungs are healthy enough for surgery, then you will miss days from work, be unable to take care of yourself for a while (time dependent on post surgery recovery) and you will not be able to smoke during that time either.
If you are not a surgical candidate, then you may be referred to a physician such as myself, to discuss your radiation therapy treatment options. If the cancer is advance, then radiation will be combined with chemotherapy. Radiation therapy treatment is every day Monday through Friday for approximately 6 weeks. Think of the logistics to accomplish these daily treatments. However, if the cancer is caught early enough, then you may be eligible for SBRT, which is high dose of radiation therapy for 1 to 5 treatments. The psychological impact for you and family will be great too.
Cigarettes are packed with cancer causing substances/toxins (carcinogens) that can lead to many different types of cancers:
Cigarette smoking causes over 90% of Lung Cancer AND Lung Cancer is the LEADING cause of cancer death. That is, when you look at all the different types of cancers and those who are dying from them … Lung Cancer is #1. Quitting is not easy. If you have been doing anything for greater than 6 months, it will take some effort to stop any habit. All changes begin with the first step though. If you are willing to try and quit, then consider;
Know this – It is never too late to make a change…
Yes. If you are exposed to cigarette smoke (second hand smoke) at home, work, or other social settings your risk for lung cancer increases by about 30%. Unfortunately, studies have shown that the cancer causing toxins (carcinogens) are higher in second hand smoke than in the smoke inhaled by smokers. Eliminating secondhand smoking may be difficult, as you will have to distance yourself from those who do smoke, but I encourage you to have that tough conversation. This could be a joint venture in making a change that will benefit everyone involved. The Surgeon General Report on “The Health Consequences of Smoking – 50 Years of Progress” may be of interest to help you and assist with your conversations as well. The link is HERE
Yes. Skin cancer is the most common cancer in the United States. Every race and ethnicity is at risk. Skin cancers develops from exposure to ultraviolet (UV) rays from the sun and tanning beds, which appears to be the most important environmental factors involved. Learn more about this very common cancer by watching this VIDEO Mini-Course HERE.
What’s a few? Back in my enlisted military days, I used to drink with my platoon, mostly guys, so learned how to “hang” early. No one really quantified anything back then. We hung out most evening playing spades and had a “few” drinks; a “few” being different for everyone. Other times, after field training exercises we gathered at the watering hole for drinking, cooking, eating, playing, games, etc., We drank the cheap, toxic stuff too (take guess at mine – I like the “green” flavored drink … giggles). I cut back, and then stop drinking during the week simply because I couldn’t “hang” running five miles 3 times/week and 1st Sergeant random surprise 4th runs ever so often. Then it was drinking only on the weekend. But once I started evening and night school, I was down to drinking on “special occasions” only.
What is your “reason” for wanting to cut back? What healthier habit can you substitute? There are lots of studies that show that alcohol intake is a risk factor for liver cancer, breast cancer, colon cancer and many more. This is very true. But then there are also studies that say a glass of red wine is good for your heart health. Medical News Today has nice, short review HERE. Strike a balance maybe? I hope you will opt to decrease your cancer risk.
The weight conversation is always a tricky one. I recall while I was an athlete at Rutgers University competing at the highest level of track, we had a few girls who were not like us sprinters. We understood the thicker/muscular body type of girls competing in Shot Put and Discus throwing – they needed the raw strength, plus their talent. However, there was this one girl on the long distance team (competing in “mileage” races), who was about my height at 70 inches, thick, muscular AND a vegetarian. She was an awesome athlete who made the regionals and championships regularly. She always stood out. Quite the Clydesdale. If you have watched the Olympics, you need a magnifying glass to find the fat on long distance runners
All that to say, a healthy weight is best measured not only by your Body Mass Index (BMI), but also by your respiratory and cardiovascular fitness. Simply put, you need your lungs and heart to live, yes? So, will your lifestyle, weight and/or exercise habits support these vitals organs? Overweight is defined as a body mass index (BMI) of 25 to 29, and obesity is defined as a BMI of 30 or higher. What about bone density? There are studies that confirm differences in bone density, which made it a challenge to make weight for some military folks. Click the links below for some interesting reads on the above.
Yes and Yes. Read my previous blogs on Cervical Cancer HERE, Cancer Screening for Men HERE and Cancer Screening for Women HERE. While genetic pre-disposition will always be a factor, I have witnessed the PREVENTION of cancer in my own family
Breast Cancer, Lung Cancer, Prostate Cancer and many more, all have appropriate screening guidelines. Talk to your PCP about when you should be screened … the answer should not be NEVER. All males – get your PSA every year. See the PSA screening recommendations from my previous blog. But many whom I have treated for prostate cancer ask me to tell you – GET YOUR PSA even if you have to pay for it, it is less than $20. Message delivered.
This should not be a “worry”, but I venture to say just a precautionary measure. If you had cancer once, then based on genetic risk factor alone, you are at an increased risk for other types of cancers too. In addition to continued screening for the cancer you were diagnosed with and treated for, the screening guidelines for other cancers do still apply. Have a chat with your Cancer Care Team, or Navigators about screening recommendations as well. Join me for a FREE Webinar for Cancer Survivors by clicking this link and registering for the Webinar. I welcome the opportunity to answer your specific questions. If you are breast cancer survivor, be sure to see our post mastectomy or lumpectomy self breast/chest wall exam, mid-page HERE
The American Cancer Society is conducting research through their cancer prevention studies. An excerpt of the Key Findings from these studies include:
This only a quick synopsis. As always, the best way to find out about any health issue, is to engage/talk with your PCP/PCM. Continue to do your annual physical and visit sooner if there are any concerning changes, or abnormalities.
Until next time know that,
Life is beautiful and God is awesome. And know, you are pure awesomeness!
Ipsa Scientia Potestas est ——— Knowledge itself is power!
Don’t forget to visit our website … HERE
Queen, Your Family Friendly Cancer Doc!