April Is Cancer Control Month
What Is Cancer Control?
Cancer control month highlights advances in fighting cancer. This includes prevention, early detection, and treatment of cancer. One way to control cancer is to find cancer cells and get rid of them. Cancer screenings can help find cancer early. The earlier the cancer is found, the better the prognosis. The American Cancer Society’s recommendations for cancer screening can be found on the next page.
What are the Key Statistics about Cancer?
- After heart disease, cancer is the second leading cause of death in the United States.
- About 1,665,540 new cancer cases are expected to be diagnosed in 2014.
- Over a lifetime, about 1 in 2 men and 1 in 3 women in the United States will develop cancer.
- Cancer rates and deaths have been on the decline since the early 1990’s.
- One third of cancers detected will be related to overweight or obesity, physical inactivity, and nutrition.
Who’s at Risk?
While everyone is at risk for cancer, some people are at greater risk than others are. Age is the greatest risk factor for cancer, since nearly 77% of cancers are detected at age 55 and older. Also, people who use tobacco, drink heavily, are physically inactive, eat a poor diet, are regularly exposed to carcinogens (cancer causing agents) in their occupation, or have prolonged and unprotected exposure to sunlight are all at increased risk for certain cancers.
Everyone should follow cancer prevention and screening guidelines. Those at highest risk for specific cancers should pay close attention to symptoms and screening recommendations and should seek prompt medical attention if they occur. Below are screening guidelines published in the American Cancer Society’s 2014 Cancer Facts and Figures.
Can Cancer Be Found Early or Controlled?
Scientific or medical discoveries have a major impact on controlling cancer. Some examples of controlling cancer are:
Researchers have found changes (mutations) in genes may cause cancer. Some genetic changes may increase a person’s chance of getting cancer. People who are concerned about cancer in their family should talk to their doctor. The doctor may send them to a cancer genetics specialist. People with a strong family history of cancer may be recommended to have a blood test. These tests may show if they have inherited any of these genetic changes. Genetic counseling helps people decide if testing is right for them as well as understand and deal with the results.
Genetic counseling is available through The Hereditary Oncology Prevention and Evaluation (HOPE) program at Rutgers Cancer Institute of New Jersey. Please call 732-235-7110 to schedule an appointment or for more information about the program.
Cells normally have genes that help prevent cancer from developing. A large part of cancer cells have changes in these genes. This is still experimental, but it may be possible to treat cancer by placing a healthy gene into the cancer cells.
Scientists are studying cancer vaccines that can stop (or in some cases, prevent) certain cancers. Vaccines help the immune system to fight the cancer.
New chemopreventive agents (agents given to prevent cancer) are being developed. They can act alone or with other medications to reduce the risk of certain cancers.
The development of new and more accurate cancer screening methods will allow earlier detection of some precancerous lesions and early-stage cancers. This allows physicians to treat people before the disease progresses.
The development of new findings about lifestyle changes, especially concerning diet, nutrition, and physical activity, may prevent some cancers.
Clinical trials are in progress to test new chemotherapy drugs or combinations. Other studies are testing new ways to combine proven drugs to make them even more effective. These medications can help control or cure cancer once it has developed.
Scientists are testing treatments that work with the immune system. This type of treatment can help fight cancer or control the side effects caused by some cancer treatments. You may also hear this referred to as biological therapy, biotherapy, or biological response modifier (BRM) therapy.
Tumors cannot grow without a blood supply. Researchers are studying antiangiogenesis therapy, which is the use of drugs or other substances to stop cancerous tumors from developing new blood vessels.
©Rutgers Cancer Institute of New Jersey Patient Education Committee