Cancer is one of the most common diseases of our time, and working on detecting it early is very important. It is true to say prevention is better than cure, but when it comes to cancer there is only so little you can do to prevent it, but detecting it early can save your life.
Last month a friend of mine was diagnosed with breast cancer. And the diagnosis brought shock waves to everyone who knows her. She lives a fairly healthy life and receiving such news makes you think a lot about life and the importance of appreciating health. Lucky for her she is only at stage 2 and her healing journey looks promising. You will get through this Mercy, you are strong.
Having gone to one of her doctor’s appointments, the doctor was so very vocal on how lucky she was for having detected it in its early stages. And was encouraging me to always check my breasts and go for full medical examinations yearly, as this can work to save my life. This had me thinking of the so many women who could actually save their lives through early detection.
I did some research on some of the most common cancers in women and how to detect them early. And here are some of my findings. I hope that it will help save a life as cancer is arguably a serious threat to humanity. The most common type of cancer among women is breast, skin, lung, uterine, and colorectal. Ovarian and cervical cancer only affects women and is also a significant cause of cancer worldwide.
Breast cancer is the most common cancer in women and statistics suggest that 12.9% of women will develop breast cancer at some point during their lives. We even did a blog on how to prevent it, as it is very prevalent in both women and men.
There is no definite way of preventing breast cancer but they are precautions you can take. Consume a healthy diet, be physically active, breastfeed if you have children, and see your healthcare provider annually for routine screenings.
If your family has a history of breast cancer you may want to have genetic testing to learn if you have inherited a mutation of the BRCA1 or BRCA2 genes. Normally, BRCA1 and BRCA2 are tumor suppressor genes that play a primary role in stopping abnormal cell growth in breasts, ovaries, and other cells. If one of these genes is broken, it can increase the risk of developing cancer. When a parent carries a BRCA gene mutation, their male and female children have a 50% chance of inheriting it.
You can detect breast cancer early by having an annual breast screening. The University of Kansas Health systems recommend all women begin screening mammograms at age 40.
Another very common cancer in women is ovarian cancer. Ovarian cancer occurs when cells grow out of control and form tumors on the ovaries and fallopian tubes. A woman’s risk of getting ovarian cancer during her lifetime is about 1 in 78. Her lifetime chance of dying from ovarian cancer is about 1 in 108. There is no screening available to detect ovarian cancer, but you may be at higher risk if you carry a genetic mutation known as BRCA1 or BRCA2. Early detection of ovarian cancer is challenging as cancer symptoms can be vague and are often not acute or intense. That’s why it is critical to know your body and listen to any changes. Trust yourself and schedule an appointment to see your gynecologic healthcare provider if you feel any strange changes.
Skin cancer is the abnormal growth of skin cells and often occurs as a result of sun exposure. The most common types of skin cancer are Basal cell carcinoma, squamous cell carcinoma, and malignant melanoma.
Currently, between 2 and 3 million non-melanoma skin cancers and 132,000, melanoma skin cancers occur globally each year. And one in every three cancers diagnosed is skin cancer.
The best ways to prevent skin cancer are to avoid sunburn, use sunscreen and perform regular mole checks.
You can detect skin cancer early by performing regular skin checks at home. Make sure to cover every square inch of your body, including your scalp, belly button, buttocks, underarms, and between your fingers and toes.
Lung cancer is one of the most prevalent cancers in women affecting about 236,740 people yearly. Lung cancer occurs when abnormal cells grow out of control in the lungs. As the cells continue to develop, they form a tumor. If the tumor spreads beyond the lungs, it is called metastases. Metastatic lung cancer is when lung cancer spreads beyond the lungs. The main risk factor for lung cancer is smoking or secondhand smoking.
You can detect lung cancer early through screening for current or former smokers ages 55-74. Low-dose CT scans can identify lung cancer in its early stage, while it is still treatable.
Another very common cancer among women is cervical cancer, affecting about 600,000 women last year alone. Cervical cancer occurs as a result of a genetic change in the DNA of healthy cervical cells. The cells grow and multiply at an abnormal rate, eventually forming cancerous tumors. Most of the time, cancer is caused by HPV.
A Pap test and HPV screening can detect cervical cancer early. You should begin having a Pap test when you become sexually active or turn 21. You should have a Pap test every 3 years or a combined Pap/HPV test every 5 years until age 65. You can also receive the HPV vaccine up to the age of 45.
Cancer can affect anyone at any time without any notice. It is therefore very important to take care of your personal health and live a fairly healthy life. Detecting cancer at its earliest stages remains one of the best defenses in preventing it from taking your life. Do what you can in preventing the disease and leave the rest to God.
For those battling cancer, hope is not lost, you will beat this disease and gain back your health.