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Thursday, October 28, 2021

What you can do to help reduce your cancer risk

By Dr Azadeh

Stay away from tobacco.
Get to and stay at a healthy weight.
Get moving with regular physical activity.
Eat healthy with plenty of fruits and vegetables.
Limit how much alcohol you drink (if you drink at all).
Protect your skin.

Know yourself, your family history, and your risks.
Have regular check-ups and cancer screening tests.
World Cancer Day is an international day marked on February 4 to raise awareness of cancer and to encourage its prevention, detection, and treatment. World Cancer Day is led by the Union for International Cancer Control (UICC) to support the goals of the World Cancer Declaration, written in 2008.

The primary goal of World Cancer Day is to significantly reduce illness and is an opportunity to rally the international community to end the injustice of preventable suffering from cancer.

World Cancer Day targets misinformation, raises awareness, and reduces stigma. Multiple initiatives are run on World Cancer Day to show support for those affected by cancer. One of these movements are #NoHairSelfie, a global movement to have “hair tic pants” shave their heads either physically or virtually to show a symbol of courage for those undergoing cancer treatment. Images of participants are then shared all over social media. Hundreds of events around the world also take place.
Mustafa World Cancer Day was established on 4 February 2000 at the World Cancer Summit against Cancer for the New Millennium, which was held in Paris.
The Charter of Paris Against Cancer, which was created to promote research, prevent cancer, improve patient services, also included an article establishing the anniversary of the document’s official signing as World Cancer Day, was signed at the Summit by the then General Director of UNESCO, Koichiro Matsuura, and then French President Jacques Chirac in Paris on 4 February 2000.

World Cancer Day themes
The 2019-2021 campaign themes are ‘I am and I will’. The theme seeks to counter the negative attitude and fatalistic belief that nothing can be done about cancer,
And instead promotes how our personal actions can be powerful and impactful. In 2016, World Cancer Day started a three-year campaign under the tagline of ‘We can. I can.’, which explored the power of collective and individual actions to reduce the impact of cancer. Prior to 2016, the campaign themes included “Not beyond Us” (2015) and “Debunk the Myths” (2014).

World Cancer Day is marked by the international cancer community, governments and individuals around the world. Each year, more than 900 activities take place every year in over 100 different countries, with the day itself trending topic on Twitter.
In recent years, cities have begun to support the day by lighting up important landmarks in orange and blue. In 2019, 55 landmarks in 37 cities participated in the landmark lighting initiative.
At least 60 governments officially observe World Cancer Day.
Cancer facts for women
Some of the cancers that most often affect women are breast, colorectal, endometrial, lung, cervical, skin, and ovarian cancers. Knowing about these cancers and what you can do to help prevent them or find them early (when they are small, haven’t spread, and might be easier to treat) may help save your life.

Breast cancer
Breast cancer is the most common cancer in American women, except for skin cancers. It can occur at any age, but the risk goes up as you get older. Because of certain factors, some women may have a greater chance of having breast cancer than others. But every woman should know about the risks for breast cancer and what they can do to help lower their risk.

What you can do
Finding breast cancer early – when it’s small, has not spread, and might be easier to treat – can help prevent deaths from the disease. Getting regular screening tests is the most reliable way to find breast cancer early.
The American Cancer Society recommends the following for women at average risk for breast cancer:
Women ages 40 to 44 should have the choice to start yearly breast cancer screening with a mammogram (x-ray of the breast) if they wish to do so.
Women age 45 to 54 should get a mammogram every year.
Women 55 and older can switch to a mammogram every 2 years, or can continue yearly screening.

Screening should continue as long as a woman is in good health and is expected to live at least 10 more years.
All women should understand what to expect when getting a mammogram for breast cancer screening – what the test can and cannot do. They should also be familiar with how their breasts normally look and feel and report any changes to a health care provider right away.

Women at high risk for breast cancer – because of their family history, a genetic mutation, or other risk factors – should be screened with MRI along with a mammogram. Talk with a health care provider about your risk for breast cancer and the best screening plan for you
Colorectal cancers
Colorectal cancer is cancer that starts in the colon or the rectum. Some factors that increase colorectal cancer risk include being overweight or obese, physical inactivity, a diet high in red and processed meats, smoking, heavy alcohol use, being older, and a personal or family history of colorectal cancer or polyps.

What you can do
Regular colorectal cancer screening is one of the most powerful weapons against colorectal cancer. Most colorectal cancers start with a polyp – a small growth on the lining of the colon or rectum. Screening can help to find colorectal cancer early, when it’s smaller, hasn’t spread, and might be easier to treat. Certain screening tests can also help prevent colorectal cancer by finding and removing polyps before they turn into cancer. :
Men and women should start regular screening at age 45.

People who are in good health and with a life expectancy of more than 10 years should continue regular colorectal cancer screening through age 75.
For people ages 76 through 85, the decision to be screened should be based on their preferences, life expectancy, overall health, and prior screening history.
People over age 85 should no longer get colorectal cancer screening.
Stool-based tests
Cervical cancer
Chronic infection by certain types of the human papillomavirus (HPV) is the most important risk factor for cervical cancer. You can get HPV through intimate skin-to-skin contact, such as having vaginal, anal, or oral sex with someone who has the virus. Other risk factors for cervical cancer include smoking, having a weakened immune system, having had a chlamydia infection, being overweight, being exposed to or taking certain hormone treatments, and not having regular Pap tests.

What you can do
Avoid smoking and help to protect yourself from HPV by using condoms. The HPV vaccines can protect against certain HPV infections linked to cancer. The American Cancer Society recommends routine HPV vaccination for girls and boys. But, HPV vaccination is also recommended for females 13 to 26 years old who have not started the vaccines, or who have started but not completed the vaccines.

Having regular Pap tests can help find changes in the cervix that can be treated before they become cancer. The Pap test is also very good at finding cervical cancer early, when it’s small, has not spread, and might be easier to treat.

The American Cancer Society recommends the following for cervical cancer screening:
Cervical cancer testing should start at age 21. Women under age 21 should not be tested.
Women between ages 21 and 29 should have a Pap test done every 3 years. HPV testing should not be used in this age group unless it’s needed after an abnormal Pap test result.
Women between the ages of 30 and 65 should have a Pap test plus an HPV test (called “co-testing”) done every 5 years. This is the preferred approach, but it’s also OK to have a Pap test alone every 3 years.

Women over age 65 who have had regular cervical cancer testing in the past 10 years with normal results should not be tested for cervical cancer.
A woman who has had a total hysterectomy (removal of her uterus and her cervix) for reasons not related to cervical cancer and who has no history of cervical cancer or cervical pre-cancer should not be tested.

A woman who has been vaccinated against HPV should still follow the screening recommendations for her age group.
Some women – because of their history – may need to be tested more often. They should talk to a health care provider about their history and risk for cervical cancer.
For further information visit the WHO AND UN websites. Also send email to [email protected], send only message to DR AZADEH ON 002207774469, 3063333.
Author: DR AZADEH, Senior Lecturer in Gynaecology and Obstetrics at the University of the Gambia and American International University, Clinical Director at Medicare Health Services

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