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Cancer, Preventative Care

Risk Factors

Cancer Prevention Diet

Symptoms and Screening

Cancer is the second greatest leading cause of death in the U.S.A. accounting for 591,699 deaths out of 2,626,418 total deaths in 2014. A large proportion of cancer cases can be linked to environmental exposures which can be altered or prevented. Making the right lifestyle choices can decrease your chances of getting cancer.

Risk Factors(Assessing and controlling these risk factors will decrease your chances of getting cancer.)

- Obesity: Being overweight is one of the strongest risk factors for cancer. It is recommended to keep your weight as low as possible without being underweight.

- Sedentary lifestyle: Engaging in high intensity aerobic exercise for 25 minutes 3 days a week, or moderate intensity aerobic exercise for at least 30 minutes for 5 days a week can decrease your chances of developing cancer along with other diseases that are the leading causes of death in the U.S.A. Resistance training 2 days per week will have added health benefits. If you have heart disease or a condition that limits your mobility, talk with your doctor about the best exercise regimen for you.

- Smoking: Smoking is one of the strongest risk factors for heart disease and cancer.

- Unhealthy diet (See cancer prevention diet below)

- Consuming red meat or processed meats such as beef, pork, lamb, bacon, sausage, hot dogs, and cold cuts (see cancer prevention diet below).

- Exposure to second hand smoke or other toxins such as radon, arsenic or asbestos. Test kits are available which test your home for these toxins.

- Family history of cancer(Genetics): There are a variety of different genes that are known to lead to cancer. Genetic testing is available to determine if you have any genes that render you susceptible to cancer. Discuss these tests and measures that you can take to prevent cancer from occurring with your doctor. For the majority of cases, environmental factors are the main contributing cause of cancer.

- Oral contraceptive use: Oral contraceptive use has been associated with an increased risk of breast and cervical cancer. It has also been associated with a decreased risk of ovarian cancer.

- Not breastfeeding

- Undescended testicle or testicular abnormality: It is important to get this condition corrected at an early age. See testicular cancer screening information below for more information.

- Exposure to radiationExposure to radiation (tanning booths, excessive time in the sun, treatments of radiation, sunburns as a child): Excessive exposure to the sun or other sources of radiation can eventually lead to skin cancer. It is recommended to apply sunscreen, and to avoid excessive sun exposure or tanning booths to avoid damage to the skin. See skin cancer screening section below.

- Not having children before age 30, for women

- Human Papillomavirus Infection: The HPV virus is common and once a person gets it, it can increase the risk of getting cervical, anal, and oropharyngeal cancer. It is transmitted by sexual contact. Practicing safe sex is an important part of cancer prevention. It is recommended to get vaccinated for HPV. Click here for more info

- Unprotected sex/sex with multiple partners: STD's such as HIV, Hepatitis C, Hepatitis B and HPV can increase your chances of developing cancer through effects on the immune system and other parts of the body. Practicing safe sex is an important part of cancer prevention.

- Having hepatit B or C Ensure that you are up to date on all vaccinations, practice safe sex, and do not engage in IV drug use to prevent your risk of developing these diseases along with cancer.

- Having HIV

- Are exposed to blood regularly, because of your job or lifestyle: This increases your risk of developing blood transmitted diseases that can increase your risk of cancer. This includes IV drug users and people who have been tattooed with an unsterile needle.

- Have inflammatory Diseases:Keep inflammatory conditions well controlled.

- Lack of screening See screening sections below.

- Excessive alcohol consumption

- Long term hemodialysis

Cancer Prevention Diet:

Definitive research is still needed in order to determine the true effects of certain dietary aspects on different types of cancer. The anti-cancer diet is similar to the diet recommended to reduce risk of heart disease and for other health conditions. The research currently available suggests the following:

- A diet high in fruits, vegetables, fiber, and whole grains(see our lifestyle tab) could be protective against cancer. Particularly, carotenoid(carrots, tomatoes, sweet potatoes), cruciferous(brussel sprouts, cabbage, cauliflower, broccoli, radishes, turnip), allium(garlic, onions) and dark green leafy vegetables could have benefits in cancer prevention, especially when they are replacing other fatty or unhealthy foods.

- A diet high in saturated fat, trans fat, processed meats, red meats, calories and sugar could increase the risk of developing cancer.

- Meat that is grilled, pan fried, cooked over an open flame, or meat that is cooked at a temperature above 300ºF for a long period of time (well done), can produce compounds called HCA's and PAH's that have been shown to cause mutations and tumors in animal studies.

- Some evidence has shown that a high intake of dairy products including milk could increase the risk of a variety of different types of cancers.

- Low calorie intake and smaller portion sizes, along with maintaining a normal weight is a key component of cancer prevention.

- Some evidence shows that a diet high in soy or garlic may prevent cancer

Being overweight is one of the most important risk factors for developing cancer. It is recommended to keep your weight as low as possible without being underweight(see lifestyle tab for more diet and lifestyle info).

Symptoms not to ignore and screening information

Testicular Cancer

Breast Cancer

Skin Cancer

Oral Cancer

Prostate Cancer

Colorectal Cancer

Lung Cancer

Cervical Cancer

Testicular Cancer Screening and Prevention:

Correct undescended testicle at an early age.
Be sure to get a testicular exams at every physical exam.

Self Exams:

It is best to talk to your doctor about the best way to do a self exam.
It is best to conduct the self examination after a shower or bathing.

1) Hold the penis out of the way. Hold one testicle between the thumb and fingers and roll it very gently, you are feeling for lumps or bumps. You are also feeling for any chances in size, texture or shape.
2) Repeat with the other testicle.
3) Notify your doctor if you notice a change.


Enlargement of either testicle or a lump on the testicle
Heaviness of the scrotum
Aches or pain in the back, groin or lower abdomen region
Pain in the testicles
Fluid collection or swelling in the scrotum

Breast Cancer


Breast exam every 3 years or less for women ages 20-40
Mammogram and breast exam once per year for women over age 40
High risk patients should discuss more frequent screening with their doctor
Discuss genetic tests with your doctor if you have a family history of breast cancer. These tests can show mutations in genes that can tell us the likelihood of cancer development, and guide treatments.
Discuss hormone replacement therapy with your doctor after menopause

Self Exams:

Become familiar with the normal structure of your breasts, if you ever notice a change, notify your doctor.
Conduct a self breast examination once per month and notify your doctor of any changes, click here for breast exam instructions.


A hard lump in the breast or under the arm
Changes in size, shape, weight or color of breast including redness or inflammation, purplish color, scales, or an itching rash on the breast
Pain of the nipple, bleeding or discharge from the nipple
Nipple becoming inverted
Swelling or warmth of the breast

Skin Cancer


A skin exam(from doctor) once per year starting at age 50.

Self Exams:

Know the ABCDE rule for abnormal mole identification:
Asymmetry, Border irregularity, Color is uneven, Diameter greater than 6mm
Evolving size, color or shape.

You can examine your own skin once per month. notify your doctor if you notice anything unusual.Click here for skin exam instructions.


Sore on skin that dose not heal
A new mole that was not there before
Changes in the border or color of a spot on the skin, redness or inflammation around the area
A lump on the skin that can bleed. The lump is small and pale
Oozing or crusting areas of skin that are large in size
A lump or a red spot on the skin that is crusting or has a scaly appearance
A mole or area of skin that is inflamed, red, itchy or painful
A spot on the skin that is dark brown or black

Oral Cancer


Oral cancer screening at each dentist visit.

Self Exams:

Examine your mouth regularly once per month, notify your doctor if you notice any changes. Click here for further instructions on how to conduct a self exam for oral cancer.

Click here for further instructions on how to conduct a self exam for oral cancer.


Patches in the mouth on the gums, tongue, inner cheek or lips that are white or red
Lump in the mouth or on neck
Difficulty or pain when trying to speak, swallow or chew
Hoarseness that is persistent for more than 1-2 weeks
Pain or numb feeling in the mouth that is persistent
Loosened teeth
Jaw swelling
Bleeding from the mouth
Persistent ear ache

Liver Cancer

Screening and Prevention:

Get vaccinated for Hepatitis B.
Get tested for and treat Hepatitis B and Hepatitis C. Many patients who have Hepatitis C are asymptomatic until they beginning having symptoms of liver disease. If it is diagnosed early the likelihood of it progressing to anything serious is much lower.


Weight loss
Increased size of liver (large mass underneath right rib cage)
Increased size of spleen (large mass underneath left rib cage)
Pain of the right shoulder or abdomen
Fluid collection in the abdomen
Yellowish skin or eyes
Increased size of veins of the abdomen which are visible
Unusual bleeding or bruises
Fainting or tiredness(low blood sugar)
Muscle changes, weakness, confusion, nausea(high calcium)
Breast enlargement
Decreased testicle size
Being flush or redness in the face(high red blood cells)
High cholesterol

Prostate Cancer


Discuss screening with your doctor when you reach the age of 50. If you have an immediate family member who has ever had prostate cancer, or if you are african american, begin discussing screening options at age 45. If two or more immediate family members have ever had prostate cancer, begin talking to your doctor regarding screening at age 40.
A Prostate Specific Antigen(PSA) test every 1-2 years is an option.


Changes in urination such as difficulty urinating or pain when urinating
Trouble initiating urination
Erections that are painful or difficulty getting an erection
Lower back, thigh or pelvic pain
Blood in the urine

Colorectal Cancer


Screening should begin at age 50, options include:
Flexible sigmoidoscopy every 5 years
Virtual colonoscopy every 5 years
Colonoscopy every 10 years
Double contrast barium enema every 5 years
Stool occult blood test every year
Stool immunochemical test every year
Stool DNA test


Blood in the stool or bleeding from the rectum
Narrow stools
Bowel movement changes
Cramps or bloating of the abdomen
Feeling of incomplete bowel movement, diarrhea or constipation
Weight loss
Constantly feeling tired

Lung Cancer


Consult with your doctor about CT screening for lung cancer.


Persistent cough for more than 2 weeks
Coughing up blood
Persistant pain in chest
Reoccurring bronchitis or pneumonia
Loss of appetite and weight loss
Trouble breathing, hoarseness, or wheezing
Constantly feeling tired

Cervical Cancer

Screening Information:

Pap tests ever three years between ages 21-29
Pap and HPV test every 5 years from ages 30-65 OR Pap test every three years
High risk patients should talk to their doctor about screening and possibly should be screened more frequently
Women over 65 who have had negative results for all cervical cancer do not need to continue screening
Women over 65 with history of cervical cancer should be tested for 20 years after their cancer diagnosis


Discharge from the vagina that is unusual
Pain or bleeding during or after sexual intercourse
Post-menopausal bleeding
Bleeding or blood spots at a time other than period
Menstrual bleeding that is heavier or lasts longer than usual


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