June is National Cancer Survivors Month. The single most important factor in cancer survival is catching the disease as early in the process as possible. And early cancer detection is reliant on individual awareness of what to look for and when to bring your concerns to the attention of your doctor.
The three most common types of cancer are breast cancer, prostate cancer, and lung cancer. The total number of diagnoses of these three cancers is expected to top 750,000 in the US in 2021. The greater your awareness, the greater your chances of early detection.
Women over 65 make up 40% of newly diagnosed breast cancer patients. For those who are 55 and older, these prevention and detection tips can reduce the risk of breast cancer and increase the chances of detecting breast cancer earlier.
- Have a mammogram every other year
- Pay attention to any changes in breasts and report them to your doctor right away
- Talk to a doctor if you are at high risk of breast cancer
- Ask your doctor about tamoxifen and raloxifene if you are at high risk
- Maintain a healthy weight and nutritious diet
- Stay physically active
- Avoid post-menopausal hormones
- Don’t smoke
- The National Breast Cancer Foundation offers information about early detection at https://www.nationalbreastcancer.org/early-detection-of-breast-cancer/
Men over age 65 account for nearly 60% of all prostate cancer diagnoses. Prostate cancer does not typically present noticeable symptoms until is at an advanced stage. That’s why screening for prostate cancer is so important.
There are two main options for screening for prostate cancer. Seniors can receive a blood test, which is called a prostate-specific antigen (PSA) test. A physical rectal exam may also be conducted. If a doctor suspects a patient has prostate cancer, a biopsy is almost always involved in the diagnosis.
Men should be certain to get screened for prostate cancer if they:
- Are over 65
- Have a family history of cancer
- Have genetic factors predisposing cancer
- Are African American
- Have an unhealthy lifestyle and poor dietary habits
While early detection increases the odds of survival, there are other reasons for having regular prostate cancer screenings:
- Men with prostate cancer may have genes that predispose both their sons and daughters to forms of cancer.
- Data about prostate cancer, even if it is non-aggressive, can be used by researchers to prevent and treat all cancers.
- Early detection can reduce the intensity of treatment required, as well as the side effects.
- Doctors may be able to begin with the less invasive blood test if a senior’s risk level is low.
While the number of lung cancer diagnoses has decreased in the US, it is still expected to be the third most commonly diagnosed cancer in 2021. However, lung cancer is by far the most deadly cancer, killing nearly twice as many people as breast and prostate cancer combined.
Lung cancer is also one of the most preventable cancers – cigarette smoking is linked to 80% to 90% of all lung cancers. Fortunately, quitting smoking has immediate health benefits at any age. The risk of getting lung cancer decreases immediately and continues to decrease as tobacco-free years increase.
The National Institute on Aging offers information specifically for seniors who wish to stop smoking at https://www.nia.nih.gov/health/quitting-smoking-older-adults
If your senior loved one has been diagnosed with cancer, they may need extra help. Treatments are often tiring and may increase the risk of falling. Assisting Hands Home Care serving Columbus, OH is available to help you focus on your relationship with your loved one while we take care of personal care needs. Give us a call today and let’s see how we can support you and your family.
SOURCES: ClearCare, National Breast Cancer Foundation, National Institute on Aging, Prostate Cancer Foundation, Mayo Clinic