FEBRUARY IS NATIONAL CANCER PREVENTION MONTH
Can you really lower your risk for cancer? The good news is that the answer is yes! It may surprise you that up to 50% of cancer diagnoses and about 50% of cancer deaths can be prevented with the knowledge we have right now.
An estimated 1.9 million Americans will be diagnosed with cancer and more than 609,000 will die from these diseases in 2022. In Maryland alone, an estimated 34,690 will be diagnosed and 11,030 will die of cancer this year.
Early detection saves lives. Routine cancer screenings for breast, cervical, colorectal, and high-risk lung cancers can prevent cancer or detect it early and increase the likelihood of successful treatment. It can be easy to delay medical appointments and tell ourselves we’ll get it done next year. But one year can quickly become two and skipping a routine cancer screening can lead to a missed or late-stage diagnosis that may be harder to treat. Talk to your health care provider about what screenings are recommended for you and then make—and keep—those appointments.
Vaccines can also prevent certain cancers. The human papillomavirus (HPV) vaccine can ultimately protect against at least six types of cancer and could prevent nearly all cervical cancer cases. It is recommended for girls and boys ages 9-12; teens and young adults up to age 26 can receive a catch-up series. Hepatitis B, which is a leading cause of liver cancer, can also be prevented with a vaccine. The vaccine is usually given at birth with the series completed at six to 18 months. Children up to age 18 and adults at high risk should also receive the vaccine if they have not already received it.
As a member of the Prevent Cancer Foundation’s Congressional Families Cancer Prevention Program®, I am highlighting this vital information for National Cancer Prevention Month to help you and your loved ones take steps to reduce your risk of cancer through healthy lifestyle choices, getting recommended cancer screenings and vaccinating against certain viruses.
There are steps you can take every day to reduce your risk of cancer. Don’t smoke (or quit if you do), protect your skin from the sun (even during the winter or on cloudy days), eat a balanced diet, maintain a healthy weight, exercise regularly and limit your alcohol intake. Visit www.preventcancer.org to learn more about cancer prevention and early detection. Take action today!
Nicole Beus Harris is the spouse of Representative Andy Harris, M.D. Statistics provided by the American Cancer Society.