February Cancer Awareness

by Jane Ashley

When we think about February, most of us immediately think about Valentine’s Day. For those of us whose lives have been touched by cancer, we realize that each month of the year has a special meaning when it focuses on the kind of cancer that we battle. Awareness months help us to understand the kinds of cancers that others face.

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February 4th, 2020 – World Cancer Day

This year marks the 20th Anniversary of World Cancer Day. World Cancer Day began with six cancer experts who met in Paris in 1999. With the new century rapidly approaching, they believed that cancer was a global concern affecting “human life, human suffering, and on the productivity of nations.” This initiative has been adopted by nations throughout the world.

Why is cancer a worldwide concern? 9.6 million people die worldwide from cancer, more than from HIV/AIDS, malaria, and tuberculosis combined. Within the next ten years, deaths from cancer are expected to rise to over 13 million annually.

While death rates are going down in the United States, death rates continue to rise in the less-developed countries and low-income, rural and immigrant populations throughout the world. About 65 percent of worldwide cancer deaths occur in less-developed countries where both screenings for cancer and treatments are not readily accessible to the general populations.

One out of every six people worldwide dies of cancer.

1 Out Of 6 People

Gallbladder & Bile Duct Cancer Awareness

This uncommon type of cancer includes cancer in either the gallbladder or the bile duct — cancer in either of these places is referred to as biliary cancer. Almost 12,500 people in the U.S. will be diagnosed with biliary/gallbladder cancer annually.

Location Of The Gallbaldder

The prognosis for this kind of cancer is less favorable because only 1 out of every 5 cases are diagnosed before it spreads beyond the gallbladder. Because the gallbladder is located deep within our body, it doesn’t usually cause any symptoms until it has spread into the lymph nodes or to other parts of the body. Symptoms are somewhat vague:

• Abdominal pain and cramping
• Bloating
• Fever
• Jaundice
• Lump in the abdomen
• Nausea and/or vomiting

Treatments include surgery, radiation, and chemotherapy.

Researchers believe that a history of gallstones might predispose you to the development of gallbladder cancer. Roughly 75-90 percent of people who have gallbladder or biliary cancer have a personal history of gallstones. Other risk factors include:

• Gallbladder polyps
• Being over 70
• Women are twice as likely as men to develop gallbladder cancer
• Mexican-Americans and Native Americans, especially those who live in the Southwestern part of the U.S., are more likely to develop gallbladder cancer
• Family history

The best advice is that if you are at increased risk for gallbladder cancer and experience any of the symptoms for over two weeks, see your doctor immediately.

National Cancer Prevention Month

National Cancer Prevention Month is sponsored by the American Institute for Cancer Research (AICR) to help people make healthy lifestyle choices to help prevent cancer.

1 Out Of 15Here are some suggestions to help everyone reduce their risks.

• Stop smoking.
• Drink alcohol in moderation
• Test your home for radon if you live in an area of the country where radon is present.
• Wear protective clothing to avoid workplace exposure to carcinogens.
• Maintain a healthy weight.
• Exercise.
• Eat more fruits and vegetables. Eat less processed meat.
• Have your children vaccinated with the HPV vaccine as a pre-teen to help prevent cervical, anal, head and neck, penile, vaginal, and vulvar cancers. Adults up to age 26 should have catch-up vaccinations if they have not been vaccinated.
• Talk to your doctor about the Hepatitis B vaccine to see if it’s appropriate for you. Liver cancer is caused by Hepatitis B.
• Always schedule the recommended cancer screenings such as mammograms, PAP/HPV smears, CT scans if you are a long-term smoker and colorectal screenings.

Control Your Vices

If cancer “runs” in your family, talk to your healthcare professional about appropriate screening schedules (for mammograms or colonoscopies) and if genetic testing may be right for you.

It may seem like every organization recommends a healthier lifestyle. The truth is that the recommendations to help prevent cancer also help prevent heart disease, strokes, and COPD other leading causes of death. You’ll feel better too — a healthier weight and exercise help build energy and stamina and fight depression — leading to an excellent quality of life.

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