By Garth W. Tormoen, M.D., Ph.D., Radiation Oncologist at Reno CyberKnife
With February being recognized as National Cancer Prevention Month, now is a good time to discuss cancer. When discussing cancer, one of the most important topics is how to prevent it.
According to the recent 2021 Facts and Figures released by the American Cancer Society (ACS), a substantial proportion of cancers could be prevented, including all cancers caused by tobacco use and other unhealthy behaviors. The ACS reports that, excluding non-melanoma skin cancer, at least 42% of newly diagnosed cancers in the U.S., about 797,000 cases in 2021, are potentially avoidable, including the 19% of cancers caused by smoking and at least 18% caused by a combination of excess body weight, alcohol consumption, poor nutrition, and physical inactivity. When looking to start a lifestyle change, such as quitting tobacco, prescription medications have been shown to increase your chances of success.
In addition, the ACS states that cancer screenings play an important role in the prevention of cancer-related deaths. Screening can help physicians find and treat several types of cancer early before they cause symptoms. Early detection is important because when abnormal tissue or cancer is found early, it may be easier to treat. By the time symptoms appear, cancer may have begun to spread and be harder to treat.
Another reason why now is a good time to discuss cancer prevention is that with Americans avoiding the doctor’s office amid the COVID-19 pandemic, experts have seen a drop in important cancer screenings. According to a survey by the Prevent Cancer Foundation, 35% of American adults had a cancer screening scheduled during the pandemic and missed it. While it is understandable why people may be nervous about visiting their physician’s office during a global pandemic, people need to realize that routine cancer screenings are essential and that early detection saves lives.
During the early stages of the COVID-19 pandemic, many states issued stay-at-home orders and cancer screenings were delayed as states sought to reduce transmission risk and health care facilities prioritized resources to ensure their ability to care for increasing numbers of patients with COVID-19. Unfortunately, this had the unintended consequence of decreasing the number of individuals returning for screening. The trend continues even now that the restrictions have relaxed nationally and despite health care facilities having developed the protocols to safely provide cancer screenings.
As the COVID-19 pandemic continues, Reno CyberKnife is not wavering on our commitment to providing patients with safe, high-quality, and comprehensive cancer treatment services. In response to the COVID-19 outbreak, our center is following all recommended guidance from public health authorities, including best practices for hygiene and infection control, as well as staying on top of the latest COVID-related guidelines, including those from the CDC.
Reno CyberKnife would like to remind you that cancer screenings are as important now as they were before the pandemic. If your cancer screening appointment was canceled or postponed, please call your primary care physician today and discuss if a screening appointment is right for you. If you, or a loved one, have recently been diagnosed with cancer and you would like to learn more about our center or discuss treatment options, please do not hesitate to contact us today.