Cancer causes, prevention and screening questions answered

Dr. Paskett in her office smiling
Question What causes cancer to develop in the body?
Cancer develops when cells in the body divide and grow out of control and form new, abnormal cells. These cells can group together to form cancerous and noncancerous masses of tissues, called tumors.
Question Is cancer preventable?

Unfortunately, no cancer is 100% preventable. However, there are things we can do to lower our risk of getting certain cancers. These are referred to as controllable risk factors, which include avoiding smoking, obesity, alcohol consumption and ultraviolet (UV) light exposure.

In addition, they include watching your diet, increasing physical activity and getting vaccinations. Some screening tests can identify precancerous conditions that if treated can prevent a cancer from developing. These include colon cancer screening and cervical cancer screening.

Question Are there types of cancers we can’t prevent?

We know that 5-10% of all cancer cases can be attributed to genetic defects and are not preventable. The remaining 90-95% are rooted in environment and lifestyle.

Most cancers are caused by genetic changes that occur throughout a person’s lifetime as a natural result of aging and exposure to environmental factors, such as tobacco smoke and radiation.

Question What are the biggest myths in cancer prevention?

One of the biggest myths is that cancer is a death sentence. This is not the case as cancer mortality rates continue to decrease.

This myth can lead many patients to not focus on prevention and to even forgo cancer screenings that can catch many cancers early on in the process.

Read how Electra Paskett, PhD, MSPH, is working to ensure no one dies of preventable cancers

Question Are there ways to prevent cancer naturally?
Other than physical activity, nutrition is the other modifiable component that plays a significant role in the prevention of cancer.
Question Do antioxidants, vitamins or other supplements prevent cancer?
No herbal products have been shown to be effective for preventing cancer. In fact, certain herbal remedies or supplements can interfere with some treatments rather than help.
Question What about exercise for cancer prevention?
Regular exercise over time has been shown to reduce the risk of developing many types of cancers, including breast, prostate, colon, endometrial and possibly pancreatic cancer.
Question What are the key cancer prevention steps anyone can take?

Simple lifestyle changes can be effective, such as maintaining a healthy weight and being physically active. Make sure you receive regular cancer screening tests and get the vaccinations you are eligible for. Two vaccines, HPV and HBV, can prevent up to seven cancers.

Regular screening tests can catch some cancers early, when they’re small, have not spread and are easier to treat. It’s never too late to start taking cancer prevention steps.

Question How is Ohio State shaping cancer prevention?

By mounting a defense against cancer, Ohio State aims to reduce its incidence and mortality and prevent the disease from developing in the first place.

The Center for Cancer Health Equity (CCHE) at the OSUCCC – James is dedicated to increasing cancer awareness in the community with an emphasis on increasing participation in cancer clinical trials and routine vaccinations and cancer screenings, especially by minority and underserved community residents.

Read how an Ohio State researcher is studying food-as-medicine for cancer prevention

Question What will the future of cancer prevention look like?

The future will include a greater emphasis on the modifiable lifestyle behaviors, such as exercise and diet, that can play a significant role in preventing chronic disease and cancer.

Another aspect that will play a much larger role is precision nutrition, which is a medical model that proposes the customization of nutritional decisions and practices that are tailored to individual patients based on their nutritional needs. Increased attention to precision screening will also be a thing in the future.

Accurate, early cancer diagnosis matters

The James Cancer Diagnostic Center gives patients direct, expedited access to diagnostic testing and consultation with Ohio State cancer experts. Think you have cancer?

Schedule an appointment today


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