“I Am and I Will.” This is the current theme for World Cancer Day, held annually on February 4th. The three-year initiative, starting in 2019, is a call to action for individuals and governments to make progress in the fight against cancer by promoting research, increasing healthcare access, improving patient services, and raising global awareness. According to the American Cancer Society (ACS), 1 in 3 people will be diagnosed with cancer in their lifetime. Lung, colorectal, prostate, and breast are the four most frequently diagnosed cancers, with one quarter of all cancer deaths attributed to lung cancer. The good news is that cancer deaths have dropped 27 percent from 1991 to 2016, mostly due to smoking reduction and advances in early detection and treatment, per a recent ACS study. Prevention is another way we can reduce this number even further. Tobacco and alcohol use, obesity, and physical inactivity all increase our risk for developing cancer, as does exposure to environmental pollution, radiation, certain infections, and occupational carcinogens. In addition, certain cancers, such as liver and cervical, can be prevented through vaccination against the Hepatitis B Virus (HBV) and the Human Papilloma Virus (HPV) respectively. According to a recent study, survival from many common cancers is three times higher when diagnosed early. Check with your primary health care provider or on the ACS website at cancer.org for screening guidelines as they vary by age and risk factors. It is also important to remain diligent for abnormal symptoms that should be evaluated such as a nagging cough, unexplained weight loss, skin changes, sores that don’t heal, change in bowel and bladder habits, unusual bleeding or discharge, thickening or lump in the breast or other parts of the body, and trouble swallowing. “I Am and I Will.” This year make a personal commitment to combat cancer. Your life and the lives of those you love may count on it.
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