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The American Cancer Society recently released its 2015 Cancer Facts & Figures showing that new cases of the most common forms of cancer, including lung, colon, and prostate, 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, we can still do more here in Texas to take preventive measures. Until recently, lung and prostate cancers were on the rise in the Lone Star State. Colorectal cancer cases are still expected to rise in 2015. In Cameron County, 425 new cases of colorectal, prostate and lung cancer were expected to be diagnosed and 196 deaths due to these cancers were expected in 2014, according to the latest numbers available. While many factors likely contribute to this, 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 Cameron 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

Though colorectal cancer rates in Cameron County are decreasing, 290 more Texans are expected to be diagnosed with colon cancer this year than in 2014. 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 several types of colon cancer screenings available including a colonoscopy and fecal occult blood test. Texans should take advantage of these important screening measures beginning at age 50, and at appropriate intervals after that, depending upon the chosen test. Talk with your physician about which screening is right for you.

STOP SMOKING, WATCH FOR EARLY SIGNS OF LUNG CANCER

Lung cancer continues to be responsible for the most cancer-related deaths in Texas. In 2015, the American Cancer Society estimates that 9,580 Texans will die from lung cancer—which is only 20 fewer than last year. In addition, the number of Texans diagnosed with lung cancer is expected to decrease in 2015. However, 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.

GET SCREENED FOR PROSTATE CANCER

Since 2007, prostate cancer incidence rates in the United States have decreased by 2.8 percent per year among men 65 years of age and older, and have remained stable among men younger than 65 years. In Texas, the number of prostate cancer cases is expected to decrease in 2015.

The survival rate for prostate cancer is much higher when detected early; therefore, it is essential that men discuss with their physicians the risks and benefits associated with prostate cancer screening to make an informed decision about testing. In most cases, men should schedule prostate screenings beginning at age 50. Consult your physician to determine an individualized schedule for prostate screenings, as some men with risk factors may need to begin testing earlier. Men at high risk (African-American men and men with a family history of prostate cancer before age 65) should begin testing at age 45.

By Marco Araneda, MD, and Nabeel Sarhill, MD, Texas Oncology–Harlingen