“It is a staggering statistic,” says Dr. Therese Bevers, the Medical Director of MD Anderson’s Cancer Prevention Center, referencing a worldwide trend and adding that cancer will soon overtake cardiovascular disease as the number one killer because of a failure to educate the public about cancer prevention. “Cancer is on the increase.”
She says improved treatments for heart disease can account for some of the shift, but stresses that practitioner’s early recognition and adoption of preventative measures for heart disease has helped stem the tide of that illness. Cancer, however, we think of in terms of treatment more than prevention. “Many people don’t realize that being overweight or obese actually increases the risk of cancer. Being physically inactive increases the risk of developing cancer,” Dr. Bevers tells KTRH News. She says some preventative measures are common sense, such as not smoking to prevent lung cancer, or getting an HPV vaccine, which could prevent up to 90% of HPV related cancers, but watching diet and exercise are also critical.
Treatments have improved, however Dr. Bevers says cancer is easier to prevent than treat. That can begin with screenings, the medical tests conducted before an illness appears, including mammography and colonoscopies to prevent breast and colorectal cancers.
The MD Anderson Cancer Prevention Center provides screening guidelines for a list of cancers including breast, cervical, liver, lung, prostate and skin, among others. You can get the complete list here.