A Focus on Lifestyle and Appropriate Screening During National Cancer Prevention Month

February 1, 2017

During the National Cancer Prevention Month, there will be renewed fervor among healthcare providers to ensure individuals pay greater attention toward preventive measures against cancer.

February is the National Cancer Prevention Month. This month, there will be renewed fervor among healthcare providers to ensure individuals pay greater attention toward preventive measures against cancer.

The American Institute for Cancer Research has 3 simple recommendations on cancer prevention:

  • Choose mostly plant foods, limit read meat, and avoid processed meat
  • Be physically active every day in any way, for 30 minutes or more
  • Aim to be a healthy weight throughout life

These guidelines are cross-cutting in that they would not just help prevent tumor development, but it will also keep other metabolic factors under check, including cholesterol and sugar levels, resulting in overall health benefits.

Lifestyle control has been the mantra for several diseases, and a JAMA Oncology study published last year identified its impact on cancer prevention. The prospective cohort analysis, which harvested data from 3 different sources, divided the participants into 2 cohorts—the low-risk group and the high-risk group—based on their smoking, alcohol, and exercise habits. Based on their findings, the authors conclude that a substantial cancer burden can be prevented through lifestyle modification in the United States.

Preventive efforts at the population level can also have a significant impact on long-term survival. A report released by the American Cancer Society (ACS) last year claimed that effective anti-tobacco and smoking campaigns have led to a 38% decline in lung cancer deaths in men between 1990 and 2012, and 13% in women between 2002 and 2012. Cigarette smoking has taken a dramatic turn for the better over the decade between 2005 and 2015, with nearly 10 million fewer smokers in the country, according to the CDC.

Public health efforts by the FDA, such as “The Real Cost” campaign, to educate teenagers and young adults on the risks of smoking, as well as corporate efforts, such as CVS’ decision to stop selling tobacco products in its stores, will go a long way to sustain the momentum of these preventive efforts.

An important recommendation by the Blue Ribbon Panel—a mix of scientific experts, representatives from cancer advocacy groups, and the pharmaceutical and biotechnology industry—which was appointed to lead the Cancer Moonshot Initiative, was to direct prevention and screening efforts toward human papillomavirus vaccination, colorectal cancer screening, and tobacco control.