by Meghan Morgavan June 05, 2018
This weekend (June 3) was National Cancer Survivors Day, a day for those with a history of cancer to celebrate milestones, connect with one another, and recognize their support network.
Most, if not all of us, know someone in our family or community who has been affected by a cancer diagnosis. In fact, roughly 38% of women in the U.S. – or more than one in three – will develop cancer during their lifetime. Given those odds, it seems only fitting to reflect on three practical things to know about reducing our risk.
Our likelihood of being diagnosed with cancer comes down to just a few factors: our family history, our environment, and our lifestyle choices. And while there’s not much we can do about our family history or the environment around us, the day-to-day choices we make about the way we treat our body can really make a difference in the long run. In fact, over 70% of the risk factors that contribute to a cancer diagnosis fall under the category of lifestyle choices.
According to the American Cancer Society, the following habits are key to achieving a healthy lifestyle. Try adopting as many as you can to keep your risk as low as possible.
Did you know that the most common cancers among women are breast cancer (123 million diagnosed each year), lung cancer (50 million), and colorectal cancer (32 million)? Of these three cancers, two of them can be detected through routine screenings such as mammograms and colonoscopies. Additionally, the pap test helps detect abnormalities in the cervix that can lead to cervical cancer (affecting 13,000 women each year).
Your doctor or gynecologist can advise you on which cancer screenings you’re eligible for and when.
Have you ever looked at a mole on your arm and thought "Was this here before?" If so, you may have shown it to your doctor just to be sure there wasn't anything to worry about.
A key part of cancer prevention, in addition to making healthy lifestyle choices and getting screened for cancers, is watching out for any physical changes that don't seem quite right. You know your body better than anyone else, so if you notice any of the following changes, you may consider talking about them with your doctor.
Additionally, if you have a family history of cancer(s), it may be worth staying extra vigilant in looking for changes related to the cancers in your risk profile. Examples of this might include changes in the way your breast looks or feels if you have a history of breast cancer or watching for changes to moles if you have a history of skin cancer.
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