Prevention, Early Detection, & Personalized Care. We live in the so-called Information Age where statistical figures abound. But when it comes to the breadth and scope of cancer, putting those statistics into perspective is helpful. For example, the American Cancer Society (ACS) will identify more than 1.73 million new cancer cases in the U.S. this year. Sounds like a lot. But what if I told you 1.73 million people is just over the size of the city populations of San Antonio, Waco, and Temple, Texas, combined?
Here’s another one: An estimated 164,690 men will learn they have prostate cancer this year. That’s more people than fit into a Dallas Cowboys football game and a Texas Tech Red Raiders football game at capacity, combined.
Cancer-related statistics tell an essential story about early detection, prevention, treatment options, and survivorship. Putting the statistics into perspective is key, as information is important to know with confidence steps you can take to manage your health.
Eat right. Exercise. Don’t smoke.
ACS notes that 42 percent of newly diagnosed cancers in the U.S. are preventable. You might ask, what does that mean for me? The important lesson in that information point is what you can do to reduce your cancer risk. Excess body weight, physical inactivity, excess alcohol consumption, tobacco use, and poor nutrition are known causes of cancer. All are behaviors you can control – limiting bad behavior and leaning into positive steps.
Data on ACS suggests many people have adopted this approach, as an estimated 2.3 million cancer deaths have been prevented in the U.S. since 1991 – thanks to healthy habits that start long before cancer is top of mind. Whatever your age, it’s never too late for healthy habits to make a difference.
Tobacco: Eighty percent of lung cancer mortalities are smoking-related, and half of the lifetime smokers will die from tobacco-related disease. Research consistently shows that smoking cessation is paramount to lung health. Smokers who quit are more likely to live healthier, longer lives while decreasing lung cancer risk.
Nutrition: Managing your weight and eating a balanced diet may bolster your body’s defenses against cancer and other illnesses. It’s important to reduce calories, limit sugar intake, saturated fats, trans fats, and alcohol, and eat nutritious foods like fresh produce.
• Substitute whole grains for refined or processed grains.
• Limit processed and red meats and foods high in salt and fat.
• Have no more than one alcoholic drink daily for women and two for men.
• Eat at least 2 ½ cups of fruits and vegetables daily.
• Select dark, leafy greens, and various seasonal fruits and cruciferous vegetables • Drink plenty of water.
Exercise: Whether you prefer hiking, biking, playing outside with the kids, or an indoor option, it’s easy to stay active year-round. Many types of cancer, including colon, postmenopausal breast, endometrial, kidney, pancreatic, and esophageal cancers, are associated with obesity and lack of physical activity.
Healthy living also means following recommended guidelines for cancer screening. Early detection – finding cancer before its symptoms are apparent and when it is most treatable – remains key to fighting the disease. Signs for many cancers are not obvious until the disease has reached an advanced and more challenging to fight stage. Screening guidelines vary according to age, family history, and gender. Still, everyone can fight cancer by staying current on their screenings and starting a habit of monthly self-checks for skin and breast or testicular cancer.
According to ACS, colon cancer is the second most common cancer diagnosed in both men and women, but 9 out of 10 times, you can treat it successfully when caught early. The math lesson here: colonoscopies save lives.
Cancer screenings, even uncomfortable ones, are necessary. Cancer early detection
Can result in less invasive treatment in the instance of a cancer diagnosis. Staying current on screenings and annual exams can increase the odds of detecting cancer early before it has had a chance to spread. This is especially important if you have a personal or family history of cancer.
Doing the math when it comes to cancer ultimately comes down to this number: One.
Each patient is one patient – an individual with a uniquely personal and clinical situation that becomes the focus of medical teams and loved ones gathered together in a community of support. At Texas Oncology, two significant numbers are more than 176 – that’s how many locations we have, and more than 4,000 – that’s the size of our combined team delivering advanced, innovative care without compromise to patients in communities all across our state.
by MARCELO BOEK, M.D