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World Cancer Day 2017

Cancer is the leading cause of death around the world. Every year, approximately 12.7 million people are diagnosed with cancer and 7.6 million of them will die from the disease.

For World Cancer Day in 2017, individuals and organizations are adopting the “We can. I can” approach to cancer. This means that organizations and individuals will both do their part to reduce the global burden of cancer.

“We Can” – What Organizations Can Do

Organizations have the power to positively impact their members and the communities they serve. They are encouraged to:

Inspire action. By working together, organizations can call on governments and leaders to to push for actions that will reduce premature deaths, improve quality of life and increase survival rates. 

Promote knowledge. Knowledge is power! By equipping the general community with appropriate knowledge of cancer prevention, causes and general lifestyle improvements, individuals will be more likely to make healthy choices.

Work together. The global cancer burden can be eased when government entities, civil groups and the private sector all work together by adopting common goals to prevent cancer. 

Create healthy schools & workplaces. Creating environments that encourage healthy behaviors will help to reduce the cancer rate over the long-term.

“I Can” – What You Can Do as an Individual

Make healthy lifestyle choices. Everyone can take steps to reduce their risk of cancer. Simple choices include: quitting smoking, eating a balanced diet and becoming more physically active. 

Understand that early detection saves lives. Be sure to make regular visits to your doctor. They will perform tests and exams that could find abnormalities early in their development. In almost all cases, timely treatment greatly impacts cancer survival rates. 

Ask for / provide support. For those with cancer, never be afraid to ask for emotional and physical support. If your loved one is living with cancer, try to be available to meet their needs. A positive support structure can make all of the difference in the world when coping with the disease. 

Breast Cancer

Breast cancer is the most common invasive cancer in females worldwide. In fact, it accounts for 16 percent of all female cancers and 18.2 percent of all cancer deaths. Breast cancer risk can be increased by several factors such as age, genetics, dense breast tissue and unhealthy lifestyle choices.

Symptoms of Breast Cancer

Typically, the first sign of breast cancer is a lump of thickened breast tissue. In most cases, lumps are not cancerous, but it should always be examined by a medical professional to be sure. Women should visit the doctor if they experience any of the following symptoms:

  • A lump in the breast.
  • A noticeable change in size or shape of the breast.
  • Changes in the skin on the breast. (bumpiness, dimples, redness, etc).
  • A change in the color or feel of the nipple or skin around the nipple.

Breast Cancer Detection

Like most cancers, early detection is key.

Women are encouraged to perform a breast self-exam once a month. This will help to identify and changes in the breast between annual medical appointments. Learn how to perform a breast self-exam.

During your annual exam, the physician will check both breasts for lumps, color changes and other possible abnormalities. This exam can be performed at any age.

Beginning around age 40 to 50, a doctor may choose to perform a mammogram. This test uses an x-ray to provide a detailed image of internal breast tissue.

Skin Cancer

One in five Americans will develop skin cancer in the course of their lifetime. Skin cancer is the abnormal growth of skin cells and it develops in three forms: basal cell carcinoma, squamous cell carcinoma and melanoma. Melanoma is the most dangerous form.

Most skin cancer develops due to exposure to UV rays from the sun or tanning beds, but lifestyle choices like alcohol consumption, cigarettes smoking and poor diet can also have an effect. The single most powerful tool against skin cancer is the use of sun screen. 

Basal Cell Carcinoma Symptoms

Typically occurring in sun-exposed areas of the skin, basal cell carcinomas tend to appear as:

  • A waxy bump.
  • A flat scar-like lesion.

Squamous Cell Carcinoma Symptoms

Squamous cell carcinoma occurs on sun exposed areas of the skin, but is also more likely to develop on those with darker skin in areas that aren’t exposed to the sun. it may appear as:

  • A firm, red bump.
  • A flat lesion with a crusted surface.

Melanoma Symptoms

Melanoma can develop anywhere on the body, even areas where exposure to the sun is limited. Anyone can develop melanoma, but people with darker skin tones are more likely to develop melanoma in the palm, fingernails or toenails. Signs of melanoma can include

  • A large brown spot with dark speckles.
  • A mole that changes in shape and bleeds.
  • A small lesion that has a white, red, blue or black border.

Skin Cancer Detection

Each month, do a head-to-toe examination of your skin to determine if there are any changes, bumps, marks, or discoloration. If you find something that is concerning, make an appointment with your dermatologist right away.

A dermatologist will visually inspect your skin for the signs of skin cancer listed above. If any suspicious areas of skin are found, a sample will be taken for testing to determine if the tissue is cancerous, and if so, what type of cancer it is.

Colon Cancer

Colon and rectal cancer is the second leading cause of cancer death in the United States. As people age, the death rates of colon cancer increase. Genetics, inflammatory bowel conditions and poor diet also play a role in increasing colon cancer risk. 

Symptoms of Colon Cancer

Many people with colon cancer experience no symptoms during the early stages of the disease, but when symptoms do appear, they may include:

  • A change in bowel habits that lasts longer than 4 weeks. (Diarrhea or constipation.)
  • Rectal bleeding.
  • Weakness, fatigue and unexpected weight loss.
  • Persistent abdominal pain and discomfort.

Colorectal Cancer Detection

The most important tool for early detection of colon cancer is a colonoscopy. In those with average risk of colon cancer, screenings will begin at age 50, but for high-risk groups, consider being screened around age 45.

During this procedure, the doctor will examine your colon and rectum using a a long, flexible tube with a camera attached to it. If any abnormal areas are found, the doctor will be able to take a sample for testing. If no abnormal areas are found, a colonoscopy will not have to be performed for ten years. If there were polyps or any concerning areas, it may be performed more often.

Prostate Cancer

Approximately one in seven men will be diagnosed with prostate cancer in their lifetime. According to the most recent statistics, over 176,000 American men are diagnosed with prostate cancer each year and nearly 28,000 of them die from the disease. 

Causes of prostate cancer are unclear, but your family history, age, race and diet can increase your risk.

Prostate Cancer Symptoms

There are no early warning signs of prostate cancer. Typically, symptoms of prostate cancer are only observed in later stages of the cancer’s growth. The most common symptoms include:

  • Frequent urination, especially at night.
  • Difficulty beginning or stopping urination.
  • Weak flow of urine.
  • Blood in urine or semen.
  • Pain or stiffness in lower back, hips and thighs. 

Prostate Cancer Detection

Because there are no signs or symptoms of prostate cancer in its early stages, regular screenings are vital. Mostly done as part of a routine check-up after age 50, a digital rectal exam is the simplest and most effective way for a prostate check. The doctor will be able to feel for bumps or abnormalities on the prostate.

For more information on cancer prevention and treatment options, contact Northwest Medical Specialties, PLLC today!