Annual Cancer Checklist for Men and Women: Warning Signs, Tests, and Risk Factors (Part 3)

Annual Cancer Checklist Part 3 - Warning Signs, Tests, and Risk FactorsAccording to the United States Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, there are approximately 8 million people worldwide, each year, who lose their lives to cancer. The sad thing is that, most of these deaths could have been prevented had they been diagnosed at an earlier stage. This is why individuals should be equipped with the right information about cancer to be able to identify signs and symptoms.

In celebration of the annual World Cancer Day on February 4, we will continue sharing with you the annual cancer checklist for men and women. In the previous article of this multi-part, the discussion was focused on women’s cancers as well as some pointers on how to be an exceptional patient, which is vital to getting an accurate diagnosis, and hopefully treatment.

Why is Cancer a Globally Pressing Concern?

The stark reality is that more people succumb to cancer more than AIDS, tuberculosis, and malaria combined. It has become so common and widespread that almost everyone knows at somebody who has cancer. According to the World Health Organization (WHO), if there are not efforts made to solve this problem and find a cure, the number of deaths will continue to increase up to 80% by the time the year 2030 begins. The highest concentration of cancers is most likely to occur in low to middle-income countries. Fortunately enough, over a hundred countries have declared non-communicable diseases, which include cancer, a global priority at the 2011 UN Summit on Non-Communicable Diseases. These states have given their commitment in taking measures that would address these problems.

What Increases the Overall Risk of Developing Cancer?
According to the WHO, some of the behavioral risk factors for cancer, in general, include the following:

  • Harmful use of alcohol

  • Eating less than 400 grams of fruits and vegetables per day

  • Anything under an hour’s worth of moderate to intense physical activity per day

  • Too much intake of sodium chloride (salt) per day

  • High levels of saturated fatty acids

  • Tobacco smoking

  • High blood glucose levels or diabetes

  • Increased blood pressure

  • High cholesterol levels

  • Overweight and obesity

    If you stay away from these risk factors, then you are more likely to be spared from the dreaded disease. The key to avoiding cancer is to eat healthy, avoid smoking and drinking, and increase physical activity.

Dealing with Cancer Deaths and Probability
In a presentation by the American Cancer Society about 2013 Cancer Statistics, one in six men have a lifetime probability of developing prostate cancer, one in 13 for lung and bronchus, and one in 19 for colon and rectum. For women, it’s one out of every eight that has a chance of getting breast cancer, one in 16 for lung and bronchus, and one in 21 for colon and rectum. For more cancer facts, you can check out the latest statistics here.

Screening Recommendations (According to Age)
As you age, the choices that you make with regards to diet, health, exercise, and other habits can determine whether you will develop cancer and other diseases in the future. Since prevention is the best way to fight this debilitating disease, a cancer checklist focuses on helping you, the individual, keep track of all the screening exams that you have to take while you are at a certain age.

The American Cancer Society has given a reliable list of screening recommendations that give you the best chance of finding the disease in case, despite proper preventive measures, you still develop cancer.

20 to 29
People under this age should start considering including health exams as part of their yearly regimen, especially to check vital organs of the body that are prone to developing cancer, such as the mouth, skin, thyroid, lymph nodes, ovaries, and testicles.

Colon Cancer Testing – Both men and women are advised to take this test once they reach the age of 20. This is to determine whether you have a higher-than-average risk for developing cancer and which factors make it so. If the doctor sees that you do not need it at this time, then you can cross one off the list. Those who are at an increased risk will be discussing with the doctor when to schedule the test and which ones are well suited for the patient.

For Ladies
Breast Cancer Testing – It is important that once a girl reaches the age of 20, she must begin to schedule a regular breast exam every three years. This can be performed by a doctor or nurse. If there are any distinct changes before the next exam is due, then individuals can arrange a visit at an earlier time. If in the event that it is indeed confirmed that an individual has an above average risk for breast cancer, then that person might be requested to start undergoing a series of mammograms and other related tests for proper diagnosis.

Cervical Cancer Testing – Women who have reached 21 years of age are advised to take a pap test once every three years. If the test results show an abnormality, then a succeeding HPV test will be administered. It is essential that even with an HPV vaccine, proper testing should still be taken at the recommended time.

Read the next part of this multi-part blog and know what tests to take if you are somewhere between the ages of 30 to 39.

References:

http://www.cdc.gov/cancer/dcpc/resources/features/WorldCancerDay/
http://www.cancer.org/research/cancerfactsstatistics/cancerfactsfigures2013/cancer-statistics-2013-slide-presentation-rev
http://www.cancer.org/healthy/toolsandcalculators/reminders/screening-recommendations-by-age
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