This article is shared with permission from our friends at Mesothelioma.com.
Although it can be intimidating to consider life-changing diseases, the best time to be informed is before having an issue or diagnosis. And, as it turns out with many issues in women’s health, taking small steps now to assist in the prevention of disease can drastically reduce your likelihood of developing issues later on.
With the intention of taking control of your health, what types of diseases should you, as a woman, or as someone who loves or cares for a woman, is most concerned about? Cancer and heart disease are consistently ranked as top causes of death for women.
Many of the risk factors for heart disease can be eased by not smoking, maintaining a healthy weight, and eating right. But, for many people, cancer feels much scarier. How do you prevent that?
Some rare diseases are perceived only as a risk for men, but can actually affect women too. For example, mesothelioma is cancer that has been thought of as a man’s disease, but, recently, the patient profile has been changing to include more women who experienced second-hand exposure from fathers, husbands, and other loved ones who worked in industries where asbestos exposure was a risk.
For any woman or loved one in your life who may have been exposed to asbestos, encourage them to visit their doctor to discuss their risks.
These three types of cancer in women cause the most deaths: breast cancer, lung cancer, and colon cancer. Collectively, they make up fifty percent of cancer deaths. So let’s unpack these a little and learn what you can do to prevent them.
Common Types of Cancer In Women (Odds, Risks, and Cancer Screening)
1. Breast Cancer
Your odds: 1 in 8
Risk factors: Your risk factors for breast cancer include family history and age. If you are over 55, your breast cancer diagnosis is more likely to be invasive, and if your mother, sister or daughter has it, your risk is doubled.
Lack of exercise and a high-fat diet are contributing factors to a breast cancer diagnosis, as is drinking heavily and a lack of exercise. Taking birth control pills increases your risk factor, as does not have a pregnancy or having your first pregnancy after thirty.
Cancer Screening: Regular breast self-exams are the first step in monitoring any lumps or changes in size or shape in the breast or armpit. Doctors and nurses can offer clinical breast exams, but by the age of forty, you should be talking to your doctor about how often you should be scheduling mammograms.
After fifty you should have a mammogram every two years. Being aware of your body and making sure to address changes or lumps in your breast with your primary care physician is imperative to catching this cancer early and increasing your chances of survival.
2. Lung and Bronchus Cancer
Your odds: 1 in 16
Risk factors: 80% of lung cancers in women could be avoided by simply not smoking. Smoking is the main risk factor for lung and bronchus cancers; smokers can be up to 20 times more likely to get lung cancer than nonsmokers.Other risk factors include an unhealthy diet and lack of exercise and exposure to second-hand smoke, radon gas, arsenic, tar, and soot.
Cancer Screening: If you are aged 55-80, currently smoke or have smoked in the past fifteen years, annual lung cancer screenings are recommended. The only recommended cancer screening available for lungs is a low-dose computed tomography, which uses low doses of radiation to take pictures of the lungs.
3. Colon and Rectal Cancer
Your odds: 1 in 19
Risk factors: Age is a significant risk factor for these cancers; more than ninety percent of them occur in people over the age of fifty. Inactivity, smoking, heavy drinking, a high-fat diet and a family history of bowel diseases are also contributing factors.
Cancer Screening: It can take ten to fifteen years for cancer cells to grow in the colon, so regular screenings can allow for removal of abnormal cells before there is an issue. Colonoscopies are the preferred screening method for colon and rectal cancers. Regular cancer screening should begin by the age of fifty but, of course, if you are at higher risk, you should begin screening earlier.
With the top three types of cancer in women, prevention and healthy living are the easiest way to decrease your risk. Pair reducing your risks with regular cancer screening and good communication with your doctor, and you may be able to catch abnormal cells before they become that unwanted disease. Here’s to a long and healthy life!
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