February Is National Cancer Prevention Month
In honor of National Cancer Prevention Month, we wanted to raise awareness of some actions you can take right now to reduce your own risk of developing cancer. According to the American Association for Cancer Research, almost half of all cancer deaths in the United States could have been prevented by taking certain measures.
Many of them will be familiar — things like using sunblock and skipping tanning beds to prevent skin damage that can trigger cancer, and of course avoiding tobacco products. Getting the HPV vaccine is important, as is regular exercise and a nutritious diet. Check out these and other steps recommended by the Prevent Cancer Foundation.
But even with our best efforts, there is no sure-fire way to completely prevent the onset of cancer. Because of that, prevention measures must be paired with an awareness of the importance of early detection. Spotting cancer as early as possible gives patients the best chance at survival.
To that end, working closely with your doctor to understand your risk of developing cancer is key. A physician who has a good sense of your family and medical history can be a great guide for when certain kinds of screening tests — such as mammograms, colonoscopies, and genetic tests — are recommended for you to improve the chances of earlier detection if cancer does develop.
And now, thanks to widely available genetic testing, you can also learn more about your risk of getting cancer based on variants in your own DNA. Genetic testing to assess hereditary cancer risk is typically recommended for people with family histories of cancer — especially among your grandparents, parents, and siblings — and for anyone who has already had cancer. While cancer itself is not passed from one generation to another, susceptibility to cancer can be inherited. That means in certain families, people have genetic variants that make them more likely to develop cancer than people without those variants. If you and your doctor decide you should undergo genetic testing, a genetic counselor can interpret the results and help you understand your risk of developing cancer.
Here at Myriad Genetics, we’ve been delivering actionable, reliable cancer risk results based on genetic information for nearly 30 years now. We aim to help people understand their own personal risk profile so they can take charge, whether that’s through being more proactive in getting screened or through lifestyle changes to reduce their risk.
We’ll mark this National Cancer Prevention Month by continuing to improve our genetic tests and ensure that they generate the most accurate cancer risk results for all people. We hope that you take a moment in the coming weeks and find a way to incorporate key lifestyle changes, cancer screening, or risk testing to help reduce your chance of developing cancer as well.