CHARLESTON – For more than a decade, Americans have watched the overall cancer death rate drop lower and lower with each passing year. As a nation, progress has been measured not just in the lives saved, but also in the shared moments – patients lifted up by the promise of remission, parents blessed with the chance to watch their children grow up, young people confident that a diagnosis cannot put a limit on their dreams. But even with the gains that have been made, there is more work to do when more than half a million Americans lose their lives to cancer every year.
In a presidential proclamation issued on March 29, 2013, President Barak Obama declared April as National Cancer Control Month. In this proclamation, President Obama encourages all Americans to rededicate themselves to securing better outcomes, reducing new cases and advancing cancer research.
To beat this disease, prevention is key. Each individual can reduce their risk of developing cancer by maintaining a healthy weight, exercising regularly, limiting alcohol intake and sun exposure, and living tobacco-free. For help quitting smoking, visit www.BeTobaccoFree.gov. Additional resources on what cancer is and how to prevent it are available at www.cancer.gov.
Early detection is also vital in the fight against cancer. The West Virginia Medical Institute, the Medicare Quality Improvement Organization for West Virginia, encourages consumers across the state to get yearly tests that look for signs of some of the most common types of cancer like breast and colon. These cancers can usually be treated successfully if caught early, so getting these tests performed regularly is very important. And, the good news is that Medicare will pay for most of the cost associated with preventive screening tests – and some are even free to you.
According to the American Cancer Society, cancer occurs when cells in your body grow in an unnatural way. Those cells crowd out the normal ones. Cancer becomes more difficult to control once it metastasizes, or spreads, to other parts of the body. This is why preventive cancer screenings play a key role in controlling the disease by detecting the disease early when it is often most treatable.