Ask Your Doctor: CANCER PREVENTION
Anguilla and many other countries would be having activities on February 4 for World Cancer Day. This is a good time for us here in Anguilla to act to reduce the impact of cancer on the island.
What is cancer?
Cancer is a term used for diseases in which abnormal cells divide without control and can invade other tissues. The top most frequent cancers seen in Anguilla are cancer of the lung, breast, colorectal, prostate, stomach and cervix.
Who gets cancer?
Almost anyone can get cancer, regardless of age, race, sex or social class, but there are certain risk factors that increase your chances of getting cancer, and these include the following:
• Excessive alcohol
• Unhealthy diet
• Physical inactivity
• Cancer causing infections
There are some steps we can take to reduce the risk of getting cancer. These can be on an individual basis or as a community. Make healthy lifestyle choices, and understanding that early detection of cancer can save lives has been shown to help in cancer prevention. It is estimated that about a third of common cancers can be prevented through a healthy diet, maintaining a healthy weight and being physically active.
Making healthy lifestyle choices
Avoiding tobacco — or deciding to stop using it — is one of the most important health decisions you can make. Smoking has been linked to various types of cancer — including cancer of the lung, mouth, throat, larynx, pancreas, bladder, cervix and kidney. Chewing tobacco has been linked to cancer of the oral cavity and pancreas. Even if you do not use tobacco, exposure to secondhand smoke might increase your risk of lung cancer.
Physical inactivity. There is no doubt that many residents of Anguilla have adopted a sedentary lifestyle in recent years. In addition to helping you control your weight, physical activity on its own might lower the risk of breast cancer and colon cancer.
Eating heathy.Eating plenty of fruits and vegetables and limiting processed foods do not guarantee that you will not get cancer, but they will certain decrease your risk.
Regular medical check-ups. Regular self-exams and screenings for various types of cancers — such as cancer of the cervix, colon, and breast — can increase your chances of discovering cancer early, when treatment is most likely to be successful. Ask your doctor about the best cancer screening schedule for you.
Get vaccinated.Vaccines can also help lower cancer risk. The human papillomavirus (HPV) vaccine helps prevent most cervical cancers and several other kinds of cancer. The vaccine is now available in Anguilla and all girls (of appropriate age) are encouraged to get vaccinated.
There are several different cancers not prevalent in Anguilla. The impact on the individual with this disease can be tremendous. Preventing cancer can lessen the impact of cancer on the island. The exact cause is not known for many cancers, but avoidance of certain risk factors has been shown to be beneficial. Talk to your doctor today.
Ask Your Doctor is a health education column and is not a substitute for medical advice from your physician. The reader should consult his or her physician for specific information concerning specific medical conditions. While all reasonable efforts have been made to ensure that all information presented is accurate, as research and development in the medical field are ongoing, it is possible that new findings may supersede some data presented.
Dr Brett Hodge MB BS DGO MRCOG, is an Obstetrician/Gynaecologist and Family Doctor who has over thirty-two years in clinical practice. Dr Hodge has a medical practice in The Johnson Building in The Valley (Tel: 264 4975828).