Get a colonoscopy
One sure-fire way to prevent cancer: Stay up to date with recommended screenings. Although rates of colon cancer deaths have been dropping due to improved screening programs, it’s estimated that 1 in 3 adults over 50 aren’t being tested as they should. "Screening for colorectal cancer is the most important way to lessen one’s cancer risk," says Ashwin Ashok, MD, a gastroenterologist at PIH Health in Whittier, California. Although there are other tests like X-rays, CT scans, or testing on stool, the colonoscopy remains the "gold standard," Dr. Ashok says. "The benefit of a colonoscopy is that it can actually prevent colon cancer," he says. "During a colonoscopy, pre-cancerous lesions called polyps can be identified and removed." Colonoscopies aren’t fun—they’re done under sedation and you have to empty your bowels completely ahead of time—but they can reduce your cancer risk. "If we can achieve 80 percent screening by 2018, 277,000 fewer people will be diagnosed with colorectal cancer and 203,000 lives will be saved by 2030," Dr. Ashok says. Here are three colon cancer signs you might be ignoring.
See your dentist
Lucky Business/ShutterstockYou probably don’t associate the dentist with cancer prevention, but regular checkups can help spot anything unusual going on in your mouth or throat. "Unfortunately, there are no good screening techniques for cancer of the throat and mouth," says Robert D. Burk, MD, a specialist in head and neck cancers at Albert Einstein College of Medicine. "Nevertheless, dentists and other healthcare providers can exam the oral cavity for masses and lesions." In addition, studies have shown that poor oral hygiene is a risk factor for head and neck cancer, so brush and floss daily. The National Cancer Institute recommends checking in with your dentist or doctor if you have a mouth sore that won’t heal, a sore throat or hoarseness that doesn’t go away, or difficulty swallowing. Read about other shocking diseases dentists find first.
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