That’s the number of new cancer diagnoses predicted for 2016 in the United States. By the end of this year, nearly 1.7 million people are expected to find out that they have cancer.
Nearly all of us will know, already know, or have known someone with cancer. And as we age, our chances of being diagnosed with cancer increase, depending on the form of the disease.
For a lot of people—maybe most of us—that’s a scary thought. The idea of having a disease that viciously takes the lives of so many people around us is something we would rather not think about.
But here’s the good news: as of January 1, 2016, the American Cancer Society reported that there are more than 15.5 million cancer survivors in the U.S.
How did they take the first step to becoming a survivor? They made the time to get a cancer screening.
So why don’t we increase the number of cancer survivors in 2017? This New Year, resolve to get a cancer screening.
Finding Cancer Early Increases Chances of Survival
The reason to have a cancer screening is simple: if you find it early, you increase the chances that the cancer will be treatable.
This can be especially important for breast, cervical, colorectal (colon), and lung cancer, where the disease is particularly treatable when found in its early stages. Likewise, a screening for ovarian, prostate, or skin cancer can help reduce the risk of death from these forms of the disease.
Though most of us don’t want to think about the potential for developing these forms of cancer, the risk is real. Cancer is a serious disease, but it is far more treatable than most people realize. And the only way for doctors to help us overcome cancer is if they know that we have it.
So don’t procrastinate and wait too long to get a screening. Increase your chances of survival, just in case you do have cancer. Screening is a form of prevention that is just as important—if not more so—than anything doctors can do after it’s too late.
Common Types of Cancer Screening
Thankfully, most types of cancer screening are simple and can be accomplished by a brief visit to the doctor’s office. Therefore, it’s important to talk with your physician regularly about what types of screening you should get, as well as how often you should plan to have them.
For women, one of the most common screenings is for breast cancer. While it is recommended that women check themselves regularly throughout most of their adult life, many doctor’s offices can provide more advanced screening techniques, such as mammography.
A mammogram is essentially an x-ray that doctors can use to check for breast cancer. It is recommended that women begin having regular mammograms no later than age 50 and schedule a screening every 1 to 2 years afterwards.
For men, there is currently a big push to prevent the risks of prostate cancer. Though an uncomfortable thought for many men, currently the most effective form of screening for prostate cancer is by digital rectal exam. This process involves a trained physician using a gloved finger placed in the rectum to examine the prostate by touch.
Currently, it is recommended that men begin talking with their doctor about having a prostate exam no later than age 45. Finding prostate cancer early can greatly reduce the risks involved with this form of the disease.
The Importance of Research and Resolve
As important as anything else in the discussion of cancer screening is making sure you do some research for yourself. Educate yourself about cancer with books or online studies. Discover the history of cancer in your own family. Talk to your doctor about the benefits and risks of cancer screening.
Once you have the facts, don’t hesitate any longer to schedule a screening. Let’s raise the number of cancer survivors for 2017. Together, using caution without fear, we can accomplish this goal.
American Cancer Society. (2016). Cancer Treatment & Survivorship Facts & Figures 2016-2017. Retrieved fromhttp://www.cancer.org/acs/groups/content/@research/documents/document/acspc-048074.pdf.
American Cancer Society guidelines for the early detection of cancer. (2016, July 26). American Cancer Society. Retrieved fromhttp://www.cancer.org/healthy/findcancerearly/cancerscreeningguidelines/american-cancer-society-guidelines-for-the-early-detection-of-cancer.
Cancer Institute of America. (2016, March 14). Cancer Statistics. Retrieved fromhttps://www.cancer.gov/about-cancer/understanding/statistics.