The American Cancer Society recently released its 2012 Cancer Facts & Figures showing that new cases of the most common forms of cancer, including colon, prostate and lung, are decreasing across the United States. Cancer prevention and treatment is better today than at any time in history, so it makes sense that increased awareness of these common cancers, combined with early screening and detection, is leading to a decreased number of cases.
While this is excellent news for the country as a whole, unfortunately we’re seeing a different story in Texas. These same common cancers are on the rise in the Lone Star state. In Hidalgo County alone, new cases of colon and prostate cancers are expected to increase slightly in 2012. The number of new incidences of lung cancer is expected to remain the same for 2012. While many factors likely contribute to this counter trend in Texas, some of the key reasons that raise risk for these cancer types are obesity, a sedentary lifestyle and smoking.
So, Texas Oncology is issuing a challenge to every resident in Hidalgo County and across Texas to take charge of your health and help combat lung, colon and prostate cancers in our community. Making lifestyle choices that help prevent cancer and getting regular screenings to detect cancer at its earliest stages are the most important first steps to take.
REDUCE RISK OF COLON CANCER THROUGH BETTER DIET, EXERCISE
One-hundred and forty more people in Texas are expected to be diagnosed with colon cancer this year than in 2011. A high-fat diet, obesity and family history of the disease raise the likelihood of developing colon cancer, which is among the most difficult to detect because it lacks symptoms in early stages. However, there are five types of colon cancer screenings available, including a colonoscopy and fecal occult blood test. Texans should begin to take advantage of these important screening measures beginning at age 50, and then every 5-10 years after that, depending upon the chosen test.
GET SCREENED FOR PROSTATE CANCER
Since 2004, prostate cancer incidence rates in the United States have decreased by 2.7 percent per year among men 65 years of age and older and have remained stable among men younger than 65 years. However, in Texas the number of prostate cancer cases is expected to rise again in 2012.
The survival rate for prostate cancer is much higher when detected early, so regular prostate cancer screenings for men after age 50 is highly encouraged. Consult your physician to determine an individualized schedule for prostate screenings—some men with risk factors may need to begin testing earlier. Prostate screenings should include the prostate-specific antigen (PSA) blood test and a digital rectal exam (DRE).
STOP SMOKING, WATCH FOR EARLY SIGNS OF LUNG CANCER
Lung cancer continues to be responsible for the most cancer-related deaths in Texas. In 2012, the American Cancer Society estimates that 9,780 Texans will die from lung cancer, which is 220 more than last year. In addition, the number of Texans diagnosed with lung cancer is expected to rise by six percent in 2012. According to the American Lung Association, tobacco smoke is by far the most important risk factor for developing lung cancer, so if you’re a Texan who smokes, quit today. Quitting smoking also reduces your risk for numerous other cancers as well as heart and lung disease. Resources are available to help you at websites like SmokeFree.gov.
For more information about colon, prostate and lung cancer prevention, please visit www.TexasOncology.com.
By Rogelio Salinas, M.D.