Taking Action for Our Health

Cancer screenings: Learn

Every day, cells in your body grow and replace themselves. Most of the time, this happens in a healthy way. But, sometimes, cells grow out of control, and harmful tumors form. This is cancer.

The best-known defenses against cancer are:

  • maintaining a healthy weight
  • regular, moderate exercise for at least 30 minutes 5 times a week
  • not smoking
  • early detection and screening (A screening test can help find cancer before one can see it or feel it.)

Many screening guidelines are based on the general population. They do not include at-risk populations. Latinos are among groups with higher risk risks for breast, cervical, and colorectal cancers. In fact, cancer is the leading cause of death for Latinos.

The good news is cancers may be easier to treat when found early, when it is small and not spread in the body. Unfortunately, fear of finding cancer can interfere with screening and getting timely treatment.

Today, in an era of personalized medical care, it's more important than ever to learn about your family's cancer history:

  • Who had it?
  • What type of cancer?
  • How old were they?
  • What happened to them?

Knowing this will allow you and your doctor to make a personalized screening plan. Learn more about protecting your health from:

When you've learned about cancer risks, you’re ready to ACT.

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Your mental health affects your overall health. When you’ve finished the Cancer Screening section, be sure to complete the Emotional Health section.


Colorectal (colon or rectum) Cancer

Everyone is at risk for colorectal (colon or rectum) cancer. The risk increases with age.

Unhealthy diet (high in meats and animal fats while low in fruits and vegetables) and obesity may increase Latinos’ risk of getting and dying from colon cancer. Also, genes and family habits may play a role in risk and survival.

Screening Colonoscopy is One of the Best Ways to Detect Colorectal Cancer. Colorectal cancer diagnosed at early stages can be treated and often cured. In fact, most colorectal cancer cases and deaths are preventable by removing the pre-cancer polyps (grape-like growths) before they become cancer. That is why screening is so important.

Start by talking with your doctor about your family history of colon and rectal cancers and find out when you should get screened and what type of colon cancer screening is best for you. If you have no personal or family history of abnormal results, get screened for colorectal cancer starting at age 50. Several screening options are available, including an exam that looks at the colon and rectum (a visual exam) or a sensitive test that looks for signs of cancer in a person's stool (a stool-based test). All colon cancer screening tests, including stool-based ones, are covered under the Affordable Care Act and may be an option if your doctor orders it.

If your doctor doesn't talk to you about colorectal cancer screening, be sure to ask! Don't wait to become sick. Your health is too important. It is common to feel a bit nervous about the screening but be sure to keep your appointment. Screening is taking action for your health.

Reference: US Preventive Services Task Force

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Breast Cancer

Women and men are at risk for breast cancer, but breast cancer is the most commonly diagnosed cancer among Latina women. Breast size doesn’t matter. The risk increases with age. Did you know that smoking can also raise your risk of breast cancer and many other types of cancer? And e-cigarettes aren’t any better. Vaping may be a gateway to cigarette smoking. And, vaping has not been proven to help people quit smoking. Quitting smoking is the best way to reduce this risk.

Screening Mammogram is One of the Best Ways to Detect Breast Cancer. A screening is a test aimed at finding the disease before you can see or feel it. A mammogram, which is an X-ray of the breasts, is a screening tool to find breast cancer early. Early detection is a good way to take control of your health. If breast cancer is found early, you have more treatment options and a greater chance for survival.

Reference:

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Cervical Cancer

All women are at risk for cervical cancer. But Hispanic women are 40 percent more likely to be diagnosed with cervical cancer and 20 percent more likely to die from cervical cancer, as compared to non-Hispanic white women. There are two likely reasons for the difference in survival. Latino women are:

  • Less likely to get screened for cervical cancer
  • Often diagnosed with more advanced cervical cancer

HPV Vaccine and Screening are Best Ways to Defend Against and Detect Cervical Cancer. The HPV vaccine protects against cancers caused by human papillomavirus (HPV) infection. HPV is a very common virus. Most people with HPV never develop symptoms or health problems. And, sometimes, HPV infections can cause certain cancers, including cervical cancer and other diseases.

The vaccine does not protect against all HPV types. So, it will not prevent all cases of cervical cancer related to HPV or cervical cancers that are not HPV-related. It is, therefore, important for women to also continue getting screened for cervical cancer.

A screening is a test to try to find a disease before you can see or feel it. With regular gynecological exams, changes in the cervix can often be detected before they become cancerous. Two screening tests can help prevent cervical cancer or find it early:

  1. The Pap test (or Pap smear) looks for cell changes on the cervix that might become cancer if they are not treated appropriately.
  2. The HPV test looks for the virus (human papillomavirus) that can cause these cell changes. If you get the HPV test along with the Pap test, the cells collected during the Pap test will be tested for HPV at the laboratory.

Early detection is a good way to take control of your health. If cervical cancer is found early, you have more treatment options and a greater chance for survival.

Reference: Cancer Facts & Figures for Hispanics/Latinos 2018-2020

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Prostate Cancer

All men are at risk for prostate cancer, but prostate cancer is the most commonly diagnosed cancer among Latino men. The risk increases with age, and there is increasing evidence that obesity may be associated with an increased risk of aggressive disease.

Screening May Help to Detect Prostate Cancer. A screening is a test to try to find a disease before you can see or feel it so that it can be found in the very early stages and be treated more effectively. Men should talk about the risks and benefits of these prostate cancer screening tests with their doctor.

Early detection is a good way to take control of your health. If prostate cancer is found early, you have more treatment options and a greater chance for survival. Screening offers a small potential benefit of reducing the chance of death from prostate cancer in some men. However, many men will experience potential harms of screening. Before deciding whether to be screened, men should have an opportunity to discuss the potential benefits and harms of screening with their doctor and to incorporate their values and preferences in the decision.

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When you've learned about cancer risks, you’re ready to ACT.

ACT NOW →

Your mental health affects your overall health. When you’ve finished the Cancer Screening section, be sure to complete the Emotional Health section.


References