Cancer is a leading cause of death worldwide. With a rapidly growing number of cancer patients in the country and around the world, cancer awareness is crucial. The American Cancer Society predicts that there will be as many as 1,658,370 new cancer cases and 589,430 cancer deaths in the United States in 2015. The most common types of cancers are prostate cancer, colon cancer, lung cancer, and breast cancer.
February is observed as National Cancer Prevention Month to remind Americans to get preventive cancer screenings and learn about the importance of early detection. The month-long observance also aims at generating awareness about leading a healthy lifestyle through fitness and proper nutrition.
Preventing Cancer – Expert Recommendations
The WCRF/AICR Second Expert Report sets out the following recommendations for cancer prevention
- Be as lean as possible without being underweight
- Be physically active for at least 30 minutes a day
- Avoid sugary drinks. Limit consumption of energy-dense foods
- Eat a greater variety of vegetables, fruits, whole grains and legumes
- Limit consumption of red meats and avoid processed meats
- If consumed at all, limit alcoholic drinks to 2 for men and 1 for women a day
- Limit consumption of salty foods and foods processed with salt
- Don’t use supplements to protect against cancer
- It is best for mothers to breastfeed exclusively for up to 6 months and then add other liquids and foods
- After treatment, cancer survivors should follow the recommendations for cancer prevention
The American Institute of Cancer Research (AICR) estimates that approximately one-third of cases or 374,000 cases of the most common cancers in the U.S. could be prevented by eating healthy, being active, and staying lean. The earlier cancer is detected, the greater the chance treatment will be successful. Screening increases the chances of detecting certain cancers early, when they are most likely to be curable.
Diagnostic Tools to Detect Cancer
Detecting cancer early is challenging when there are no symptoms. Physicians determine the type of test to be used based on the person’s age and medical condition, the type of cancer suspected, the severity of the symptoms, and previous test results. Diagnostic tests for cancer include biopsy, scans, MRI, colonoscopy, pap test, and blood tests. A blood test for prostate cancer detects the amount of prostate specific antigen (PSA). Higher than normal PSA levels could be an indication of cancer. Beckman Coulter Diagnostics, the leading manufacturer of quality hematology analyzers, flow cytometers and coagulation analyzers recently announced the availability of the Prostate Health Index (phi), a simple, non-invasive blood test for detecting prostate cancer. Other methods are often used along with blood tests to confirm diagnosis. Breath tests to detect cancer are among the latest developments.