Tag Archives: cancer

Father’s Day Is Important, Dad. Get Screened.

Dads deserve the attention, accolades and gifts they get each Father’s Day. They also should give themselves and their families a gift in return: a lifelong dedication to healthy living.

That includes adopting healthy habits that help reduce the risk of developing cancer.FathersDayicon Cancer is a complex disease. Your risk of developing cancer isn’t based only on genetics or family history, although they do play a role. Have you ever wondered how much lifestyle affects cancer risk? Research shows that half of all cancer today could be prevented by practicing healthy habits.  Start by adopting one or two healthy behaviors.

Once you’ve gotten those down, move on to others:

  • Maintain a healthy weight
  • Exercise regularly
  • Don’t smoke
  • Eat a healthy diet
  • Drink alcohol only in moderation, if at all
  • Protect yourself from the sun
  • Get screening tests

Healthy Weight & Good Nutrition. Less Cancer.

There are several research-proven ways to lower your cancer risk! One way is by maintaining a healthy weight. dadimagineNot sure how to begin? First focus on not gaining more weight, then on eating a healthier diet and exercising to achieve a healthy weight. Ask a health care provider for tips on how to achieve and maintain a healthy weight. Check out these sites for healthy recipe options:

Healthy Father’s Day Recipes

Healthy Heart & Soul Recipe Book

Healthier Recipes – USDA Mixing Bowl

More Exercise. Less Cancer.

Regular exercise – just 30 minutes each day – will lower your risk of developing cancer. Whether you’re running on a treadmill or walking around the block, it all counts. Encourage your whole family to get up and move together. Exercise is especially important for cancer survivors. For some cancers, regular physical activity may lower the risk of recurrence and eliminate the risk of other chronic diseases. Visit http://eatsmartmovemoresc.org and click on Let’s Go! for information on parks and trails, and other resources.

 Fight Cancer. Don’t Smoke.

Smoking is a leading cause of cancer and death from cancer. It causes cancers of the lung, esophagus, larynx, mouth, throat, kidney, bladder, liver, pancreas, stomach, cervix, colon, and rectum, as well as acute myeloid leukemia. Many of the chemicals found in cigarettes have been shown to cause DNA damage, including key genes that protect us against cancer. For cancer patients, studies also find that smoking hinders cancer treatment. For help with smoking, contact the SC Tobacco Quitline.

Lung Cancer

Most cases of lung cancer are caused by smoking. Lung cancer is the leading cause of death from cancer in the U.S. and the leading cause of cancer death in men and women. Three screening tests have been studied to see if they decrease the risk of dying from lung cancer: 1) Low-dose spiral CT scan (LDCT scan), 2) Chest X-ray; and 3) Sputum whitebowcytology. Screening with low-dose spiral CT scans has been shown to decrease the risk of dying from lung cancer in heavy smokers. Screening with chest X-rays and/or sputum cytology does not decrease the risk of dying from lung cancer. Talk with your doctor about the risks of lung cancer screening.

More Education. Less Cancer.

Prostate Cancer

There is no standard or routine screening test for prostate cancer. Talk with yourbluebow doctor about the digital rectal exam (DRE) and prostate-specific antigen test (PSA) for prostate cancer. The South Carolina Cancer Alliance is a resource for education trainings and opportunities. Visit their website for patient care information and volunteer opportunities.

More Screenings. Less Cancer.dadnote

It is important to remember that your doctor does not necessarily think you have cancer if he or she suggests a screening test. Screening tests are given when you have no cancer symptoms.

Colorectal Cancer

Screenings are essential to catching some cancers early and can help prevent purplebowexisting cancers from spreading. Speak with your doctor about tests to detect colorectal cancer.

Colorectal cancer is the third most common type of non-skin cancer in men (after prostate cancer and lung cancer).

Prevention. Less Cancer

Cancer prevention starts with education, screening, and a healthy lifestyle. Take control of your health, and encourage your family to do the same.

Happy Father’s Day.

Practice sun safety to help avoid skin cancer

As enjoyable as it is to have fun in the sun, it’s important to protect your skin in the midst of that good time.

Skin cancer is the most common cancer in the United States. Most cases of melanoma, the deadliest kind of skin cancer, are caused by exposure to ultraviolet (UV) rays. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention notes on its website that in order to lower your skin cancer risk, you should protect your skin from the sun and avoid indoor tanning.

Here are some safety tips the CDC recommends:

Check the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s UV Index before you spend time outdoors. Plan your sun protection accordingly, using these tips:

  • Seek shade, especially during midday hours.
  • Cover up with clothing to protect exposed skin.
  • Wear a hat with a wide brim to shade the face, head, ears and neck.
  • Wear sunglasses that wrap around and block as close to 100 percent of UV rays as possible.
  • Use sunscreen with “broad spectrum protection” and a sun protection factor (SPF) 15 or higher.
  • Reapply sunscreen at least every two hours and after swimming, sweating or toweling off.

A few facts about skin cancer

  • The sun’s UV rays can damage unprotected skin in as little as 15 minutes. That said, it can take as long as 12 hours for skin to show the full effect of sun exposure.
  • It’s not about the temperature. Even if it’s cool and cloudy, you still need protection from UV rays.
  • Tanned skin is damaged skin. Any change in the color of your skin after time outside—whether sunburn or suntan—indicates damage from UV rays.
  • Indoor tanning exposes users to both UVA and UVB rays, which damage the skin and can lead to cancer.
  • The most common sign of skin cancer is a change in your skin, such as a new growth, a sore that doesn’t heal, or a change in a mole.

Visit the CDC website to find more information on skin cancer awareness.

Cervical Health Awareness Month

By Trenessa K. Jones, DSL
Best Chance Network Director
Division of Cancer Prevention & Control

Cervical Health Awareness Month is an opportunity to raise awareness about how women can protect themselves from cervical cancer, which was once one of the most common causes of cancer death for U.S. women.

While more work remains to prevent and respond to cervical cancer, fortunately the death rate has gone down with the increased use of screening tests.

You may qualify for free screening

The S.C. Department of Health and Environmental Control’s (DHEC) Best Chance Network (BCN), along with its many partners, work to educate the public on the importance of cervical cancer screenings and help those who cannot afford to get screened.

BCN, which is administered by DHEC’s Cancer Prevention and Control Division, offers breast and cervical cancer screenings at no cost to women who have no health insurance or only have hospitalization insurance, who are between the ages of 30 and 64, and who meet certain program and income guidelines. The BCN program partners with more than 450 health care providers in the state to coordinate cancer screenings for these under-served women. The program also offers diagnosis and treatment, data tracking, public education and more.

The work of BCN

Since its inception in 1991, BCN has provided more than 225,000 breast cancer and cervical cancer screenings for eligible women, assisting nearly 11,000 this past year alone.

According to the National Cancer Institute/Centers for Disease Control and Prevention State Cancer Profile, an average of 190 women are diagnosed with cervical cancer a year, while about 72 women die from the disease every year in South Carolina.  Thanks to an increase in routine Pap smears, cervical cancer rates have dropped drastically in the last 60 years, but South Carolina still ranks 14th in the nation for new cases of cervical cancer and 11th in the nation for cervical cancer deaths.

Cervical cancer symptoms may not be present in early stages.  That’s why routine screenings are so important; when caught and treated early, cervical cancer is highly curable.

“No woman in South Carolina should die from this highly preventable cancer. Regular screenings and follow up care are critical and if found early and treated it can be cured,” said Virginie Daguise, Ph.D., director of DHEC’s Bureau of Community Health and Chronic Disease Prevention.

Visit the DHEC website for more information on BCN.

Colorectal cancer deadly, but preventable

By Sonya Younger

Colorectal cancer will claim the lives of an estimated 830 South Carolinians this year. Another 2,200 will be diagnosed with the disease.

According to the American Cancer Society’s “Cancer Facts and Figures 2016,” colorectal cancer is the second most common cancer in both men and women in the United States and South Carolina, with almost 49,000 deaths and 134,000 new cases occurring nationally. There are 1.2 million Americans living with colorectal cancer in the United States.

Despite those statistics, colorectal (or colon) cancer is a preventable disease — if it’s detected early, which is why it’s so critical for people 50 and older to be tested regularly. Only 64.2 percent of people 50 or older report having ever had a colorectal cancer screening test in South Carolina (S.C. Behavior Risk Factor Surveillance System 2012).

This month is National Colorectal Cancer Month, a time not only to be reminded of the damage this cancer can cause, but to be reminded of how early detection can help prevent the disease.

Catch colorectal cancer early

It’s important to screen for colon cancer because it often doesn’t reveal itself. The disease is a silent killer: Polyps and early stage colon cancer often cause no symptoms.

But the rate of new cases has been decreasing for most of the past two decades, a trend that has largely been attributed to increases in the use of colorectal cancer screening tests that allow for the detection and removal of colorectal polyps before they become cancerous (American Cancer Society, Cancer Facts and Figures 2014).

The U.S. Protective Services Task Force recommends screening for colorectal cancer using fecal occult blood testing, sigmoidoscopy or colonoscopy in adults beginning at age 50 and continuing until age 75. The colonoscopy is the most widely used.

Reducing the risk

According to the American Cancer Society, there are a number of factors that can increase the risk of getting colorectal cancer, including physical inactivity, overweight and obesity, smoking and alcohol use.

Family history and race also are factors.

People with a parent, sibling or child who has had colorectal cancer have two to three times the risk of developing the disease compared to individuals with no family history. If the relative was diagnosed at a young age or if there is more than one affected relative, the risk increases. About 20 percent of all colorectal cancer patients have a close relative who was diagnosed with the disease.

African-Americans are at a higher risk for the disease than other populations, according to studies. Starting at age 50, everyone should begin routine screening tests. Research shows that African-Americans are being diagnosed at a younger average age than other people. Therefore, some experts suggest that African-Americans should begin their screening at age 45.

There are ways to help reduce the risk of developing colorectal cancer, including:

  • getting screened regularly
  • adopting a physically active lifestyle
  • eating a healthy diet
  • limiting alcohol consumption

Screening more accessible to state employees

In South Carolina, the Public Employee Benefits Authority (PEBA) considered early detection to be so important that it made an intentional effort to increase colorectal cancer screening rates among state employees and their family members over age 50 — a group of approximately 118,000 enrollees. In order to find the right approach, PEBA, which administers retirement and insurance benefits for South Carolina public employers, employees and retirees, collaborated with the University of South Carolina Center for Colon Cancer Research, the American Cancer Society, the S.C. Cancer Alliance and the S.C. Department of Health and Environmental Control’s S.C. Central Cancer Registry (SCCCR).

Key data from the SCCCR was used to help produce critical materials and fact sheets for the PEBA Board of Directors to review. One of the recommendations among the materials was to remove all cost barriers for screening supported by data-driven statements using South Carolina’s incidence, mortality, stage distribution (particularly the percent of late-stage cases diagnosed annually), as well as the costs of treatment for advanced disease. The cost savings of screening versus treatment was demonstrated.

The board ultimately voted to remove cost barriers to screening for State Health Plan enrollees. Even though this screening was covered by the State Health Plan, deductibles, co-pays and out-of-pocket costs could add up to hundreds of dollars.

 

Effective January 2016, this colonoscopy benefit is offered at no cost to State Health Plan primary members at network providers. The State Health Plan has removed a patient’s out-of-pocket cost for diagnostic colonoscopies and routine screenings, including the pre-surgical consultation, the generic prep kit, the procedure itself and associated anesthesia. The state’s Standard and Savings plans follow the age recommendations set by the United States Preventive Services Task Force for routine colonoscopies.

The key refrain in the fight against colorectal cancer is simple and direct: Get screened regularly.

Visit the S.C. Department of Health and Environmental Control’s page on colorectal cancer for more information.

Learn More About Cervical Cancer

By Stephanie Hinton, CPM, MHS, MA, Director, DHEC Division of Cancer Prevention & Control
Cervical cancer symptoms may not be present in early stages.  That’s why routine screenings are so important to detect cervical cancer early before symptoms occur.  When caught and treated early, cervical cancer is highly curable.

You May Qualify for Free Screening

Cervical cancer screenings are available for South Carolina women who meet program eligibility requirements.  DHEC’s Division of Cancer Prevention and Control administers The Best Chance Network (BCN). Contact the American Cancer Society at 1-800-227-2345 for additional information on program eligibility.  You may qualify if you:

  • Are a woman who lives in South Carolina
  • Are 40 to 64-years old
  • Do not have health insurance or are underinsured (meaning your insurance only covers hospital care)
  • Meet income eligibility guidelines

Cervical Cancer is on the Decline                                                                                        

According to the S.C. Central Cancer Registry, 980 women were diagnosed with cervical cancer from 2008 – 2012, while more than 350 women died from the disease during the same period.  Thanks to an increase in routine Pap smears, cervical cancer rates have dropped drastically in the last 60 years, but South Carolina still ranks 14th in the nation for cervical cancer incidence and mortality.

cervical-infographic long