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Simple Steps You Can Take to Prevent Cancer in Your Loved Ones

Posted: 2/3/2020 8:00 AM by Interim HealthCare
In honor of World Cancer Day February 4, here are some simple things you can do to help prevent cancer in your loved one – and yourself. 
 

First, some cancer facts

As complicated and devastating as cancer can be, the disease almost always starts rather “simply.” That is, “cancer develops when the body’s normal control mechanism stops working.

Briefly, new cells ordinarily form and replace old ones that have become old or damaged. This happens as a matter of course in a healthy human body from the time we’re born until we die. Cancer starts to form when the cells don’t die but instead grow out of control and create new, abnormal cells. It’s these abnormal cells that can form a tissue mass, called a tumor (although some cancers, such as leukemia, don’t form tumors).

The tumor grows and our bloodstream’s lymphatic system may carry cancer cells to other parts of the body, developing new tumors. This is known as metastasis. Common locations for cancer metastasis include the bones, brain, lungs and liver.
 

Common cancers for men and women

The most common cancers tend to be different between men and women. Breast cancer, for example, is far more common in women than in men. The next most common cancers in women are:
 
  • Lung
  • Colorectal
  • Uterine
  • Thyroid

The most common cancers in men are:
 
  • Prostate
  • Lung
  • Colorectal
  • Bladder
  • Melanoma (a serious form of skin cancer)  

Many forms of cancer ARE preventable!

While our environment can increase our cancer risk, most cancers are preventable, since they are based on our lifestyles.

We know you want to keep your senior loved ones as healthy as possible for as long as possible. Here are some simple steps you can take to help your seniors stay cancer-free.

 

1. If they smoke, encourage them to quit

Smoking is a leading cause of lung cancer. But it’s also linked to breast, bladder, mouth, colorectal, throat, esophageal and even bladder and cervical cancer.

About 90 percent of all lung cancer is caused by smoking. Even if your loved ones have never smoked, if they live with someone who does or frequent places where lots of people often smoke (such as casinos), you can encourage them to ask their roommate to stop smoking, or perhaps even move them to a non-smoking home.

If you smoke, set a good example and help prevent cancer in yourself, and quit.

Fewer people than ever are smokers today, but even chewing tobacco can cause cancer (mouth cancer) and the number of people who now chew (mostly men) has grown. This is also true for the use of tobacco powder (often called snuff). So if someone you love chews, encourage that person to give it up.
 

2. Watch sun exposure

Skin cancer is the most commonly diagnosed type of cancer in America. In fact, it’s diagnosed more often in the U.S. than all other cancers combined. Diagnosis of the worst kind, melanoma, is growing (the other two types of skin cancer are basal and squamous). In fact, the 2019 annual statistics report by the American Cancer Society predicted that melanoma diagnoses were expected to increase by 5.7 percent.

If your senior loved ones were sun worshipers when younger, encourage them to go to a dermatologist at least once a year for a skin screening. Doing so allows the dermatologist to get a good look at a patient’s skin to check for signs of pre-cancer lesions – which often are easily removed.

Regardless of their previous sun-exposure, encourage your loved ones to wear a wide-brimmed hat whenever they’re out in the sun and to wear long sleeves and long pants when outdoors. If possible, see if your loved ones can invest in some sun-protective clothing that has ultraviolet ray protection built in for those times when they’re outdoors for extended periods of time.
 

3. Maintain a healthy weight and be active

Obesity and inactivity have been linked to breast and colorectal cancers. There’s also some evidence of links to pancreatic and lung cancer.

Even just 30 minutes of walking at a moderate pace (about a 20-minute mile) four or five days a week can help your senior loved ones stay healthy. Their immune systems will alsol get a good boost, they’ll be better able to control their weight, their energy will increase and their stress levels will decrease.

In fact, if possible, you should get some exercise. To help your loved ones exercise, get out there with them!
 

4. Talk to your loved ones about THEIR loved ones

Breast, ovarian and bowel cancers in particular tend to run in families. So it’s a good idea – if your parents never mentioned a history of family cancers or if you’ve never discussed it before – to sit down with your loved ones and ask them if their close relatives (parents, siblings, aunts/uncles) ever had cancer and, if so, what type.

Knowing this will help you ensure that your loved ones – as well as yourself – get the proper screenings for the type of cancer a relative had.
 

Caring for loved ones with cancer

If someone you love has cancer, if your senior has an advanced case, you’re no doubt very worried and may have even taken over some of the personal care.

Here at Interim HealthCare, we can provide your loved one with simple companionship and some help around the house, or provide respite care if you’re the primary caregiver for your senior and need a break. (And you do!) We can even provide customized care plans if you need someone to stay with your loved one for several hours or all day.

Contact the Interim Healthcare location nearest you for more information.