It’s the word that can turn your life upside down – and the lives of your friends and family.
We don’t always know why people develop cancer. There are, however, some things that can increase your risk, such as lifestyle choices, heredity and other factors.
But there are also several causes beyond your control, such as age. In general, people over the age of 65 are at a high risk of cancer, and they account for 60 percent of all new cancer diagnoses.
The good news, though? For those facing cancer, the Wellmont Cancer Institute will be by your side to help you fight – every step of the way.
Can cancer be stopped before it starts?
Thanks to advances in screenings, genetic testing and lifestyle modifications, there are ways you can prevent certain cancers, or detect them early.
One of the most important ways you can fight cancer is through regular examinations and check-ups. In the Tri-Cities, Wellmont Medical Associates offers dozens of fantastic family practitioners, internal medicine physicians and women’s health providers. These caregivers can help you and your family members make the positive life changes and maintain the lifestyle you need to stay healthy.
Nothing compares to regular cancer screenings, especially as you age.
For women, beginning at age 40 until age 70, an annual mammogram is the best tool to fight breast cancer. You should also speak with your health care provider immediately if you notice early symptoms of breast cancer, including lumps or bulges in your breasts or underarms, changes in your nipples or changes and rashes in the skin of the breast. Family history can also be important, so talk to your doctor if your close family members develop cancer.
Women should also continue receiving PAP and HPV tests as they get older. These exams are typically performed in an OB/GYN’s office either annually or every three years until age 65.
Men and women alike should receive regular screenings for colon cancer, again starting at age 50. Most providers recommend colonoscopies every 10 years, and other screening tests every five years
If you have additional risk factors, such as a history of smoking, low activity levels or poor eating habits, you might benefit from additional screenings. Talk to your provider about your personal risk and options, as well as what tests or lifestyle modifications might be needed.
You know your body best.
In addition to preventive care and screenings, it’s important to recognize symptoms of various cancers and other illnesses. Talk to your provider immediately if you notice:
- A lump anywhere on your body
- Sores or ulcers that do not heal in three weeks
- Moles that change shape, size or color, crust over or bleed
- Cough or hoarse voice that lasts more than three weeks
- Shortness of breath
- Loss of appetite, ongoing indigestion or difficulty swallowing
- Changes in bathroom habits
- Unexplained weight loss or tiredness
- Unexpected pain that lasts for more than three weeks
Strength for today and hope for tomorrow
At the Wellmont Cancer Institute, we believe cancer prevention and treatment should begin – and end – with hope. Because where there is hope, there is the strength to fight and the optimism to survive and thrive. With hope as its focus, we’re committed to helping our patients have the chance to live out their dreams long after cancer is only a distant memory.
Those with cancer, or anyone who thinks they may be at risk, should visit wellmont.org/hope or call 877-230-NURSE (6877) to learn more about the Wellmont Cancer Institute.
- Dr. Nausheen Ahmed sees patients at the Wellmont Cancer Institute’s Kingsport office. She treats patients with all types of cancer, specifically those of the lung, breast and GI tract.