M. D. Anderson Cancer Center
Date: September 2008
Duration: 0 / 03:01
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Dr. Therese Bevers, medical director of Clinical Cancer Prevention and Prevention Outreach Programs at M. D. Anderson Cancer Center, explains the different aspects of cancer prevention.
There are actually several different aspects of cancer prevention. I like to think of it in kind of three different segments. The first segment is really risk assessment, or understanding an individual’s risk of developing cancer. In doing so, we can identify individuals who are at increased risk and may have needs for special risk reduction or screening recommendations. And then individuals who are at average risk which would be able to follow our general recommendations.
The second area is risk reduction. We commonly think about that as the healthy lifestyle activities – healthy diet, exercise, limiting alcohol intake, stopping smoking if you do smoke or don’t start if you haven’t. Practicing safe sun practices –out in the sun, putting on sunscreen before you go out, wearing protective clothing, the like. And then safe sex practices. Recognizing the HPV, Human Papilloma Virus, is a cause of cervical cancers and we recognize that is related to sexual activity. The more partners you are exposed to the greater your risk of exposure to HPV. So these are what we call risk reduction activities.
We have expanded into kind of a new area of risk reduction activities which is chemoprevention. Where we actually use medications or vaccines to reduce the risk of developing cancer. And there are a couple of areas that we have chemoprevention available. One is breast cancer, where we use either tamoxifen or raloxifene. We have the vaccines, the HPV vaccine is utilized to reduce the risk of cervical cancer and then the Hepatitis B vaccine is suggested to reduce the chance of developing liver cancer because Hepatitis B is one of the big causes of liver cancer.
Not all cancers can be prevented, but finding the disease early can be crucial to successful treatment.
And then the third activity of cancer prevention is the historical area of early detection – cancer screening, so different tests that can be done for particular kinds of cancers to catch them at an earlier stage when they’re more treatable. We’re especially targeting asymptomatic individuals. We want to catch it before it develops symptoms. That suggests it’s very small, very early and more treatable.
To learn more about cancer prevention or create your own personalized cancer risk profile, visit the Prevention section of M. D. Anderson’s Web site at www.mdanderson.org/prevention.
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