Resolve to Fight Cancer in 2014
THUNDER BAY – Health – Heading into February, some people have likely already left their ‘New Year’s Resolutions’ in the dust.
The New Year has arrived, and with it come the promises to lose weight, eat better and stop smoking. These ambitious goals come with the best intentions, but often these resolutions won’t work out.
But Cancer Care Ontario has one resolution for men and women that is easy to keep – get screened for cancer.
“It’s a perfect time to speak with your healthcare provider about getting screened for cancer,” says Dr. Linda Rabeneck, Vice President of Prevention and Cancer Control for Cancer Care Ontario. “It’s extremely important in the prevention and early detection of cancer, and it’s easy and quick to do.”
Cancer screening doesn’t require any major lifestyle changes, and in many cases, doesn’t even have to be done every year. All it takes is a discussion with your healthcare provider (a family doctor or nurse practitioner for example) to learn when you should be screened.
Fear of Cancer Screening
“We know that cancer screening saves lives, but that not enough people are doing it,” says Dr. Rabeneck. “Sometimes men and women are afraid to get screened because they don’t want to know if they have cancer.”
Research shows this is a major hurdle to cancer screening, and Dr. Rabeneck is worried that men and women are delaying or avoiding being screened out of fear. “It’s completely understandable why some people are hesitant to get screened, but the benefits of finding cancer early when chances are better for beating it can’t be ignored,” she says.
Detecting cancer at an early stage is critical to saving lives. In fact, when the disease is caught early, a person with colorectal cancer has a 90 per cent chance of survival. The Fecal Occult Blood Test, an easy to use at-home test, is able to detect the disease early before there are any physical symptoms.
Cervical cancer is almost entirely preventable through regular Pap testing, which detects abnormal cell changes. In many cases those abnormal cells can be treated, preventing cancer. But there’s no way to spot these cell changes without getting a Pap test. It’s the best tool for preventing this disease.
Breast cancer is most curable when it’s caught early. A mammogram is able to spot signs of the disease before any physical symptoms appear.
Cancer risk increases with age
For those aged 50 to 74, cancer screening for colorectal, breast and cervical cancers should become a regular routine, as the risk of developing cancer increases with age.
A new ad campaign is being launched this month by the Ministry of Health and Long-Term Care to encourage Ontarians to get screened. “For men and women 50 to 74, cancer screening is very important,” says Deb Matthews, Minister of Health and Long-Term Care. “Finding cancer at the earliest possible stage can provide a valuable head-start on treatment.”
If you’re unsure about when to start screening, the best thing to do is speak to your healthcare provider.
Dr. Rabeneck says that even if you don’t manage to stick to any other resolutions this year, making the commitment to get screened can have a huge impact. “Cancer screening can potentially save your life. It might be the best resolution you make this year.”