Assessing your Risks during National Cancer Prevention Month

February is National Cancer Prevention Month and a perfect time to revisit your lifestyle choices and review your medical and family history. While taking steps to prevent cancer doesn’t completely eliminate your risk, it can help reduce specific factors which contribute to the disease. Being mindful of your risk factors can also help you to develop a screening plan with your doctor if you’re considered high risk for cancer due to family history, age, or race. When caught early, most cancers have a much better prognosis which allows you and your family more time to make important decisions regarding your health care and treatment options.

At Greater Boston Urology (GBU), our physicians diagnose and treat urological cancers including cancers of the bladder, kidney, prostate, and testicles. Risk factors for each disease vary. Some risk factors can be reduced by lifestyle choices, while others are inherited. Knowing your risks can provide valuable insight that may help prevent cancer or aid in an early diagnosis.

Bladder Cancer: The American Cancer Society states that smoking is the most significant risk factor associated with bladder cancer. Exposure to certain chemicals in the workplace, such as benzidine and beta-naphthylamine, may also increase your risk. The industries which present the greatest risk for developing this type of cancer include textile, rubber, and leather manufacturers. A person’s age, race, and ethnicity may also play a role. According to the American Cancer Society, Caucasians are twice as likely to develop bladder cancer as African Americans. Learn more about the risks and symptoms associated with bladder cancer in Greater Boston Urology’s previous blog “Uncovering More about Bladder Cancer Risk” at: http://bit.ly/1JQjDxu.

Kidney Cancer: High blood pressure, obesity, and smoking all increase your risk of developing kidney cancer. Family history may also contribute to an increased chance of the disease, as well as certain family conditions like Von Hippel-Lindau (VHL) syndrome. VHL is a rare disease that runs in some families and causes cysts and tumors.  (http://1.usa.gov/1m6QKd4)

Prostate Cancer: Uncontrollable risk factors including age, race, and geography heighten the risk for this type of cancer. As a man ages, the chance of developing prostate cancer increases. The American Cancer Society reports that nearly six in 10 men who are diagnosed with prostate cancer are over the age of 65. African American and Caribbean men of African ancestry are more likely to have prostate cancer than men of other races. Though the reason is still undetermined, prostate cancer occurs more often in North America, Northwestern Europe, Australia, and on the Caribbean islands. In less developed areas, this may be attributed to lower rates of cancer screening. If you’re considered high-risk for developing prostate cancer, or have a family history of the disease, scheduling a screening with Greater Boston Urology can offer you peace of mind.

Prostate screenings are recommended by the American Urological Association for all men age 55 to 69. If a biopsy is needed after a PSA blood test and a digital rectal exam, Greater Boston Urology is the first and only private urology practice in Massachusetts to offer the 3D Fusion Prostate Biopsy. This technology allows physicians to specifically target cells for biopsy that are considered suspicious for disease, lending to more accurate results. (http://bit.ly/1fg2Gzy)

Testicular Cancer: One of the most prevalent risk factors for this type of cancer is cryptorchidism, a condition in which one or both testicles fail to descend from the abdomen into the scrotum before birth. According to the American Cancer Society, men with cryptorchidism are several times more likely to develop prostate cancer. Age also contributes to a man’s risk, with half of diagnoses occurring between the ages of 20 and 34. (http://bit.ly/1FDS0Kf)

It’s important to remember that those who are considered to be at a higher risk for a disease than others may never develop cancer at all. Determining your risk factors merely provides medical professionals and individuals with an opportunity to diagnose and treat an illness early, for the best possible outcome. To assess your personal risk factors or to schedule a screening, call Greater Boston Urology today for a free consultation at (508) 202-4318 or visit Greater Boston Urology online at www.greaterbostonurology.com for additional information.

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