Cancer - Is It Preventable?

Cancer - Is It Preventable?

Cancer - Is It Preventable?

Cancer, which affects one out of every two men and one out of every three women is the disease that everyone fears the most. But thanks to recent progress, cancer is also the most preventable disease!

   

Cancer - Is It Preventable?

image by: Brett Sayles

The four most common diseases, breast cancer, prostate cancer, lung cancer, and colon cancer, all have methods of prevention as well as easy methods for early detection. So everyone needs to make certain that they themselves, and all of their loved ones are following all the recent recommendations.

Breast cancer is the most common cancer in women. Women at high risk of breast cancer should consider not only having mammography, but also annual breast MRI to detect the earliest cancers when they are most curable. But even before breast cancer occurs, breast cancer can be prevented by lifestyle and medications. A women’s risk for breast cancer can be determined by a simple online method.

Lifestyle changes that reduce the risk of breast cancer include maintaining a normal body weight (rather than overweight or obesity), exercise of at least 30 minutes per week, and having children at younger rather than older ages. It surprises most women to know that some medications can also prevent breast cancer, and women should discuss the advantages of taking tamoxifen or raloxifene (which reduces breast cancer risk by 50%) with their physician.

Prostate cancer is the most common cancer affecting men. African-American men are at higher risk of having prostate cancer, as well as men with a family history of prostate cancer. Screening for prostate cancer involves a simple blood test PSA, although controversial, and an annual digital rectal exam.

To prevent prostate cancer, two medications had been shown to be highly effective. Finasteride 5 mg daily reduces the development of both lower grade and higher grade prostate cancers by 25 to 30%. To prevent higher grade prostate cancers, the use of statins (cholesterol-lowering medications) can be very effective, up to 60% reduction in death from prostate cancer.

Lung cancer is the most common fatal cancer. The most important method to prevent lung cancer is to reduce smoking and even reduce second hand smoke exposure. Several medications as well as counseling are highly effective in reducing smoking, but it requires persistence and the support of your family and physician to accomplish this most effectively.

Many scientists believe that selenium may also prevent lung cancer, and this is under nationwide testing at the present time. Although still controversial, people who have been smokers should consider an annual screening low dose CAT scan to try to detect any lung cancer at stage 1 when it is most curable. And, any smoker or non-smoker with any symptoms such as cough, wheezing, shortness of breath, coughing blood, or chest discomfort should also get scanned.

Colon cancer is a common malignancy that can be prevented by removing pre-cancerous polyps. Colonoscopy, or the more recently developed colonography (use of a CAT scanner to detect polyps rather than insertion of a colonoscope) can identify polyps that can later develop into invasive cancerous growths.

Following a cancer preventing diet (less red meat, more chicken or fish, at least five helpings of fruits, fruit juices, or vegetables per day, and intake of high fiber foods) can be preventive. Medications that prevent colon cancer in many studies include aspirin (at least one adult size aspirin daily if there are no medical contraindications), calcium, and possibly selenium (200 mg daily).

It is also believed that taking vitamin D to achieve normal vitamin D levels is important in preventing many types of cancers, as well as taking various types of nutritional elements (tomatoes, soy, and green tea).

If your primary care physician is not helpful in determining your risk of cancer, or in discussing the prevention of cancer with you, be certain to ask for a consultation with an oncologist to help you to know and achieve your safest lifestyles and medications for future health.

Also discuss vaccinations such as the HPV vaccine for you or your family in order to prevent cancers that include not only cancer of the cervix, but also cancer of the vagina, cancer of the penis, genital warts, and cancer of the mouth and throat.


Dr. Cary Presant is an internist, hematologist, and oncologist in Los Angeles, CA. He is a past president of both the American Cancer Society California Division and the Association of Community Cancer Centers. As a national expert in healthcare, cancer research, and cancer treatments, he is the author of the book “Navigating American Medicine” soon to be published. More information can be found at http://www.carypresant.com<CaryPresant.com.

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Last Updated : Thursday, September 1, 2022