April is National Cancer Control Month in the United States, and health organizations across the country are making efforts to educate millions of people about the most effective ways they can help prevent the spread of this dangerous disease.
And although Cancer, in all its forms, impacts millions of people every year – about 1.6 million Americans are diagnosed every year, according to the American Cancer Society – the illness does discriminate against older people.
The numbers are sobering: about 70% of Cancer deaths in the United States are among people aged 65 or older, according to a 2006 journal article by the American Clinical and Climatological Association (ACCA). That means older people and over are 16 times more likely to die from the disease than their younger counterparts.
Additionally, the ACCA article discovered some troubling facts explaining the higher incidence of Cancer deaths among older people; among them being that “older people are less likely to receive the standard of care.”
So how can seniors and the elderly – those with the highest risks of both developing and dying from Cancer – help to prevent this deadly illness, and effectively fight it if diagnosed?
No matter the age, there are certain warning signs that everyone should look out for to help identify any potential early signs of Cancer.
These warning signs can include:
1. A lump or thickening somewhere on the body
2. Difficulty performing an activity, or increased discomfort
3. A change in the size, shape or color of a mole
4. New bleeding or changes in the body
Although these are general warnings signs that typically apply across ages, seniors and the elderly are at a higher risk for a number of forms of Cancers, including Prostate Cancer, Cervical and Ovarian Cancers. A medical schedule, including seeing doctors at regular intervals, especially with advancing age, helps to identify any irregularities as soon as they appear.
In addition to maintaining regular appointments with medical doctors, a healthy lifestyle is one of the best defenses seniors and the elderly have against the threat of many illnesses, Cancer included.
According to the Mayo Clinic, some of the best ways to reduce the risk of developing Cancer include:
1. Avoiding smoking and other tobacco products: Smoking significantly increases the risk of lung and related Cancers, so don’t smoke, and if you do smoke, try and quit as soon as possible.
2. Eat healthy and nutritious food: Many fruits and vegetables help to fight Cancer.
3. Be physically active: Being active helps to prevent becoming overweight, and staying trim can help to reduce the chances of contracting various types of Cancers, including lung, colon, and breast.
4. Avoid over-exposure to the sun: Skin Cancer is the biggest consequence to extreme sun exposure, and tanning beds can also be dangerous.
Although about half of all North Americans are likely to be diagnosed with some form of Cancer over the course of their lives, and older people are at a higher risk, knowledge and a healthy lifestyle can be the best way to fight this deadly illness.