Cancer Prevention and Early Detection

Choosing a healthy lifestyle can reduce your chances of getting cancer. Early detection can help you survive cancer.

A Healthy Lifestyle

Stop smoking—or don’t start. At least 15 different kinds of cancer are linked to smoking and other tobacco use. Nearly one-third of all cancer deaths are due to smoking. Quitting smoking is one of the best things you can do for yourself and for those you love. Click for information about Sacred Heart’s Options Tobacco Cessation Program.

Be sun-smart. Avoid non-melanoma skin cancer by being safe in the sun. Use sunscreen generously (SPF 15 or higher). Relax in the shade, not the sun. Wear sunglasses, a hat and a shirt, especially in the middle of the day (even on overcast days).

Eat right. Include at least five servings of fruits or vegetables in your diet every day.  Maintain a healthy weight. It can help you avoid cancer as well as heart disease and diabetes.

Get active. Exercise can help you maintain a healthy weight. And people of all sizes who exercise (vigorously or even moderately) are at lower risk of developing colon and breast cancer than those who don’t.

A drink? Maybe not. Limit or avoid alcohol. Drinking raises the risk of certain cancers, especially in combination with tobacco.

Early Detection

Certain cancers can be cured more easily if they are detected early. Regular check-ups are the key. The American Cancer Society currently recommends the following routine screening tests for people at average risk of cancer. People with higher risk may be screened more often.

  • Breast cancer: Get yearly mammograms starting at age 40, in addition to regular self-exams and exams by your doctor or other health care provider.
  • Colon and rectal cancer: If you are over age 50, talk to your doctor about getting one or more of several screening tests to detect these cancers. Such tests include colonoscopy, flexible sigmoidoscopy, and fecal occult blood test.
  • Cervical cancer: Regular Pap tests are recommended for women starting no later than age 21, yearly at first and less frequently as women age. (Newer liquid-based Pap tests can be done just every two years.)