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October is Cancer Prevention and Control Month

Local health departments across Michigan have designated October as Cancer Prevention and Control Month.

“Cancer is the second-leading cause of death among Americans, exceeded only by heart disease,” said Barb Peterson, women’s health nurse practitioner with the Dickinson-Iron District Health Department. “While breast cancer awareness is typically promoted in October, we need to take this opportunity to educate Dickinson and Iron County residents about other cancer screening services and resources available to them, as we are always working to promote healthy lifestyles.”

Regular screening and examinations by a health care provider can result in the prevention of cervical and colorectal cancers through the discovery and removal of precursor lesions. Screening can detect cancers of the breast, colon, rectum, cervix, prostate, and oral cavity, and skin at earlier stages when treatment is more likely to be successful. Cancers that can be prevented or detected earlier by screening account for about half of all new cancer cases.

Cancer is the second-leading cause of death in Michigan, contributing to significant economic and social costs. In 2018, an estimated 56,590 people in Michigan were diagnosed with cancer and 21,380 were projected to die from cancer. To maximize impact on population health, interventions will continue to target breast, cervical, colorectal, prostate and lung cancers due to the burden of and strategies available to address these cancers.

Breast cancer is the second-leading cause of cancer death and, excluding skin cancers, the most frequently diagnosed cancer in the U.S. among women. About 1 in 8, or 12%, women in the US will develop invasive breast cancer during their lifetime. Death rates from breast cancer have been dropping since 1989, with larger decreases in women younger than 50. These decreases are believed to be the result of finding breast cancer earlier through screening and increased awareness, as well as better treatment options. Women are encouraged to keep up with regular self-exams and mammography screening according to their age and risk factors, and guidance from their primary care provider.

At this time, there is only one vaccination available that can prevent certain forms of cancer. The human papillomavirus, or HPV, vaccine aids in the prevention of cervical, anal, oropharyngeal (mouth and/or throat), vaginal, and penile cancer that can be caused by the human papillomavirus. It is ideal that children between the ages of 11 or 12 begin the HPV vaccination series; starting these vaccinations at this time allow for proper immunities to build before potential exposures to this virus. As of October 2016, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommend this series be completed in two doses separated by six to 12 months.

Smoking is the leading risk factor for lung cancer. The best way to prevent lung cancer is not to smoke and to avoid all exposure to secondhand smoke. The Michigan Tobacco Quit Line (1-800-QUIT-NOW) provides free tobacco cessation counseling services to all Michigan residents. In addition, some may be eligible for free nicotine replacement therapy aides such as patches or gum, particularly the uninsured.

For more information about cancer prevention and control resources, contact the local health department or go to www.michigan.gov/cancer, www.michigancancer.org, www.cancer.org, or www.cancer.gov.

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