October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month. In these two articles, Health & Wellness looks at both the progress being made in detecting and treating Breast Cancer, and the other major types of Cancer – how to also detect them, and how healthy eating can help prevent the disease. We are indebted to the American Cancer Society (www.cancer.org) and the Mayo Clinic (www.mayoclinic.org) for providing much of this information.
It’s estimated that more than 11 million people in the United States have some form of cancer. There are more than 200 different types of cancer, although many are quite rare. In 2016, an estimated 1,685,210 new cases of cancer were diagnosed in the United States and 595,690 people will die from the disease.
The most common cancers in 2016 were: breast cancer, lung and bronchus cancer, prostate
cancer, colon and rectum cancer, bladder cancer, melanoma of the skin, non-Hodgkin lymphoma, thyroid cancer, kidney and renal pelvis cancer, leukemia, endometrial cancer, and pancreatic cancer.
(Info courtesy National Cancer Institute)
These are some of the main types of cancer, what they are, and the tests you can take:
Non-melanoma skin cancer
Affecting more than 1 million people a year, skin cancer can form in the skin cells on any part of the body, though most commonly on skin that’s been exposed to the sun. There are several types of skin cancers, including squamous cell skin cancer, found in the flat cells on the top of the skin, and basal cell skin cancer, found in the round cells deeper inside the skin’s outer layer. Most commonly, skin cancer affects older people or people who have a compromised immune system.
Ask your doctor whether you should consider periodic screening for skin cancer. You and your doctor may consider screening options such as:
Skin exams by a trained professional. During a skin exam, your doctor conducts a head-to-toe inspection of your skin.
Skin exams you do at home. A self-exam may help you learn the moles, freckles and other skin marks that are normal for you so that you can notice any changes.
Colon and rectal cancer and polyps
Colon cancer grows in the tissues of the colon, whereas rectal cancer grows in the last few inches of the large intestine near the anus, according to the National Cancer Institute (NCI). Most cases begin as clumps of small, benign cells called polyps that, over time, become cancerous.
Screening is recommended to find the polyps before they become cancerous, according to the Mayo Clinic. Starting at age 50, both men and women should follow one of these testing plans:
Tests that find polyps and cancer:
Colonoscopy every 10 years, or
CT colonography (virtual colonoscopy) every 5 years, or
Flexible sigmoidoscopy every 5 years, or
Double-contrast barium enema every 5 years
Tests that mostly find cancer:
Yearly fecal immunochemical test (FIT), or
Yearly guaiac-based fecal occult blood test (gFOBT), or
Stool DNA test (sDNA) every 3 years
Cervical cancer is a type of cancer that occurs in the cells of the cervix — the lower part of the uterus that connects to the vagina. Various strains of the human papillomavirus (HPV), a sexually transmitted infection, play a role in causing most cervical cancer. You can reduce your risk of developing cervical cancer by having screening tests and receiving a vaccine that protects against HPV infection.
Cervical cancer testing should start at age 21. Women under age 21 should not be tested.
Women between the ages of 21 and 29 should have a Pap test done every 3 years. HPV testing should not be used in this age group unless it’s needed after an abnormal Pap test result.
Women between the ages of 30 and 65 should have a Pap test plus an HPV test (called “co-testing”) done every 5 years. This is the preferred approach, but it’s OK to have a Pap test alone every 3 years.
Lung and bronchial cancer is the top cancer killer in the United States. Smoking and use of tobacco products are the major causes of it, and it strikes most often between the ages of 55 and 65, according to the NCI.
The American Cancer Society does not recommend tests to check for lung cancer in people who are at average risk. But, they do have screening guidelines for those who are at high risk of lung cancer due to cigarette smoking. Screening might be right for you if you are all of the following:
55 to 74 years of age
In good health
Have at least a 30 pack-year smoking history AND are either still smoking or have quit within the last 15 years. (A pack-year is the number of cigarette packs smoked each day multiplied by the number of years a person has smoked. Someone who smoked a pack of cigarettes per day for 30 years has a 30 pack-year smoking history, as does someone who smoked 2 packs a day for 15 years.)
This cancer is the second-leading cause of cancer deaths in men, after lung and bronchial cancer, according to the NCI. Prostate cancer usually starts to grow slowly in the prostate gland, which produces the seminal fluid to transport sperm. Research has not yet proven that the potential benefits of testing outweigh the harms of testing and treatment. Starting at age 50, men should talk to a healthcare provider about the pros and cons of testing so they can decide if testing is the right choice for them.
UNITE FOR A WORLD WITHOUT BREAST CANCER
Making Strides Against Breast Cancer Walk
Add Saturday, October 21, to your calendars for the 16th Annual American Cancer Society Making Strides Against Breast Cancer Walk.
Nearly 30,000 Greater Nashville residents came together last year, and raised more than $850,000 to help create a world ‘free from the pain and suffering caused by breast cancer.’
The 2017 event, which returns to Nissan Stadium, helps to create a world without breast cancer. There is no cost to register; however, teams are encouraged to fundraise to support the Society’s life-saving mission.
For questions about hosting a fundraiser or sponsoring the event, please call the American Cancer Society at 615-341-7315. Sign up today at MakingStridesWalk.org/NashvilleTN
Funds raised at this non-competitive, family-friendly event enable the American Cancer Society to save lives from breast cancer by investing in groundbreaking research; providing free, comprehensive information and support to those touched by the disease; and helping people take steps to reduce their breast cancer risk or find it early when it’s most treatable.
To learn more about the Making Strides Against Breast Cancer Walk in Nashville, or for other information, call toll free at 1-800-227-2345. Available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.