Cancer: Can we beat it?
Approximately 11 million cancer survivors will celebrate a birthday this year. That's solid evidence of progress in the fight against cancer. Prevention, knowledge and heart play key roles.
The most effective ways to beat cancer are prevention and early detection. By living a healthful lifestyle, being aware of your risk factors and getting regular cancer screenings, you can avoid getting cancer or catch it in its earliest stages, when treatment is most successful. While we still need to learn a great deal about cancer and its triggers, we do know that maintaining a healthy weight, avoiding tobacco, limiting alcohol intake, exercising daily and eating a healthful diet can go a long way in prevention. Wearing sunscreen every day and limiting your exposure to environmental carcinogens are solid strategies, too.
Despite a healthful lifestyle, however, you can still get cancer. That's why regular checkups with your doctor, OB/GYN and dermatologist are so important. They can detect cancer early, when it is easier to treat and survival is far more likely.
If you do develop cancer, research your options and get help in making decisions on the treatments available to you. Learn as much as you can about treatment centers, cancer specialists, efficacy of various treatments, treatment side effects and how best to manage them. By doing so, you will feel more in control of your cancer. Look into local and online support such as Cancer Survivors Network and get involved. Connecting with fellow survivors can give you hope —- and, likewise, you can inspire hope in others.
The more people advocating for education, research, prevention and treatment, the better the voices in the fight against cancer will be heard. Join cancer advocacy groups, such as the American Cancer Society Cancer Action Network. Urge lawmakers to pass laws that protect people from carcinogens, make funding for cancer research and programs a top national priority, improve access to health and cancer care for all people, and provide incentives for cancer caregivers and volunteers.
You can also help by raising money through fundraisers, such as Relay for Life, and encouraging others to do the same.
Help researchers find a cure
Organizations such as the American Cancer Society fund and conduct groundbreaking research to better understand the causes of cancer, determine the best ways to prevent it, and discover new ways to cure it. The American Cancer Society is also enrolling adults across the United States in one of the nation's largest cancer prevention studies (called CPS-3) to better understand the lifestyle, behavioral, environmental and genetic factors that cause or prevent cancer and to ultimately eliminate cancer as a major health threat. Contact the American Cancer Society to learn how to enroll, volunteer and promote CPS-3 in your community.
Take the time to stay well, get informed, fight back and advocate for a cure —- your life and the lives of your loved ones depend on it.