Protect Yourself by Detecting Cancers Early
By Kenneth L. Noller, MD
The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists
Cancer claims the lives of too many women. It is the second leading cause of death of women in the US. In 2007, an estimated 270,000 women died and 678,000 women were diagnosed with some type of cancer.
It is no surprise that cancer tops many women’s lists of health fears. A recent ACOG/Harris Interactive® survey polled women on their cancer knowledge and found that:
- One in five women said they would prefer not to know if they have cancer. Fear of the disease may cause women to skip important screening exams and preventive health check-ups that can detect cancer early.
- Nearly two-thirds of women mistakenly believe that having no family history of cancer means they have a low risk of developing the disease, when, in fact, the majority of cancers occur in people who have no family history.
- Only half of the women surveyed felt that they were doing enough to reduce their cancer risk, but nearly one in five were not willing to change daily lifestyle habits, which can reduce their cancer risk.
These statistics are especially upsetting when you consider that as many as half of all cancer deaths could be prevented if people simply practiced healthy lifestyle habits — such as eating well, exercising, and not smoking — and got recommended health screenings.
Do you know your true cancer risk? ACOG has developed a free, web-based guide called Protect & Detect: What Women Should Know about Cancer that contains up-to-date information on cancer and cancer prevention to combat the gaps in women’s knowledge.
Protect & Detect covers breast, cervical, colorectal, lung, ovarian, and uterine cancers — the six cancers that most often affect women. The guide also addresses who is most at risk, how cancer can be prevented, types of screening exams available and when to have them, and how cancers are treated.
Your ob-gyn can provide valuable information on many types of cancer, assist in early detection, and keep you informed about age-appropriate screening exams. Women of all ages are encouraged to use the Protect & Detect guide in partnership with their ob-gyn to help them take charge of their health and reduce their cancer risk. Take the guide with you to your next ob-gyn visit and share your questions and concerns with your doctor.
To get started, download Protect & Detect: What Women Should Know about Cancer