Ways to Reduce Your Cancer Risk
NWSL Challenge Cup final: Houston Dash captain Rachel Daly explains why she's playing for more than a trophy
Houston's top scorer speaks on the culture change and what it means to put on her team's jersey
Tell us how you are confronting cancer.
Perhaps you are a doctor or a donor. A caregiver or friend. Or even a
patient yourself. Your story may provide strength and support to
others who are facing cancer. Thank you for sharing it with us.
Houston Dynamo defender Zarek Valentin is proud to wear MD Anderson jersey
Houston Dynamo defender Zarek Valentin says he vowed to use his platform for good when he became a professional athlete. Playing with the MD Anderson logo on his jersey motivates him to fight harder on the field for cancer patients like Kelly Conner, as well as his grandparents, who passed away from cancer. To learn more, visit: http://mdanderson.org/dynamo KTRK ABC13 featured Zarek Valentin celebrating with patient Kelly Conner as she rang the bell, signifying the end of her treatment: https://abc13.com/covid-19-coronavirus-kelly-conner-albert/6242846/ Request an appointment at MD Anderson by calling 1-877-632-6789 or online: https://my.mdanderson.org/requestappointment
Make sun safety your goal featuring Dynamo FC midfielder Memo Rodriguez
When you're out on the pitch, it’s all about bringing the heat. But the sun brings it too, so you need to bring sunscreen. Re-apply every 2 hours – and make sure it’s SPF 30 or higher. Choose one that’s water resistant and broad spectrum, with UVA and UVB protection. Use it, no matter your skin tone – and even if it’s cloudy. Make sun safety your goal! To learn more, visit www.mdanderson.org/soccer Request an appointment at MD Anderson by calling 1-877-632-6789 or online: https://my.mdanderson.org/requestappointment
MD Anderson ambassadors from Houston Dynamo FC and the Houston Dash kick off the 2021 season
Rachel Daly, Zarek Valentin, Memo Rodriguez, and Christian Ramirez excel both on and off the field when it comes to supporting MD Anderson’s mission to end cancer. They discuss their experiences as ambassadors and what representing MD Anderson means to them. To learn more, visit: mdanderson.org/soccer Request an appointment at MD Anderson by calling 1-877-632-6789 or online: https://my.mdanderson.org/RequestAppointment
Houston Dynamo FC defender Zarek Valentin encourages blood donations
Dynamo FC defender Zarek Valentin urges Dynamo fans, Dash fans and the community to donate blood to cancer patients at MD Anderson. The MD Anderson Blood Bank is facing a critical shortage, and each donation can help up to three cancer patients. Visit www.mdanderson.org/bloodbank to make an appointment today. We’re in this together. Request an appointment at MD Anderson by calling 1-877-632-6789 or online: https://my.mdanderson.org/requestappointment
MD Anderson and the Houston Dash team up to end cancer
MD Anderson will become the official cancer center and jersey partner of the Houston Dash from the National Women’s Soccer League starting in the 2020 season. The two organizations will collaborate through community events, public service announcements, cancer prevention initiatives, and fundraising opportunities. To learn more, visit: https://www.mdanderson.org/dash Request an appointment at MD Anderson by calling 1-877-632-6789 or online: https://my.mdanderson.org/requestappointment
MD Anderson, Houston Dynamo partner to end cancer
"Today is the start of something great," says MD Anderson President Peter WT Pisters of plans for MD Anderson Cancer Center and the Houston Dynamo to work together to end cancer. Effective Jan. 1, MD Anderson will be the the official cancer center and jersey partner of Houston's Major League Soccer (MLS) team. The collaboration is the first season-long cause-related jersey partnership in MLS history. MD Anderson and the Dynamo are planning cancer prevention education, community outreach, survivorship celebrations, public service announcements and philanthropic initiatives together. Attendees of the launch event were the first to publicly view the Dynamo's 2019 away jersey, which bears MD Anderson's strike-through-cancer logo. Pisters and Dynamo owner Gabriel Brener led the jersey reveal with team mascot Diesel in a ceremonial "Starting XI" photo with pediatric and adult cancer survivors. The co-branded jersey symbolizes the two organizations' mutual commitment to encouraging fans, club partners and the Houston community to join the team effort in Making Cancer History®. In addition to jersey branding, the partnership agreement enables MD Anderson to reach a broad, diverse and international audience through joint community events with the Dynamo, stadium signage and public service announcements. The Dynamo will engage player ambassadors in cancer prevention education initiatives and will create fundraising opportunities such as contributing a portion of the club’s ticket sales to support MD Anderson's mission to end cancer. Learn more: https://www.mdanderson.org/newsroom/2018/11/md-anderson-houston-dynamo-team-up-for-one-goal-end-cancer.html
MD Anderson, Houston Dynamo raise cancer awareness at End Cancer Night
The University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center proudly sponsored End Cancer Night at BBVA Compass Stadium on Saturday, April 27. The special evening honored those affected by cancer and raised awareness about the importance of cancer prevention and education. Highlights of the event included the opportunity for kids to take MD Anderson's no-tobacco pledge, special MD Anderson/Dynamo scarves, a giant MD Anderson scarf unveiled on the field and a special halftime performance by ovarian cancer survivor and America's Got Talent season 11 finalist Caly Bevier. $1 from each ticket sold went back to MD Anderson to support MD Anderson's cancer research. Learn more and donate to MD Anderson: www.mdanderson.org/dynamo. Request an appointment at MD Anderson by calling 1-877-632-6789 or online at https://my.mdanderson.org/RequestAppointment?cmpid=youtube_appt.
Houston Dynamo and Houston Dash Kick Childhood Cancer
Houston Dynamo and Houston Dash players found meaningful ways to celebrate MD Anderson Children’s Cancer Hospital patients during Major League Soccer’s Kick Childhood Cancer month. Although COVID-19 precautions limited in-person activities, the teams participated in a series of events that included a special Starting XI ceremony, surprise home visits, virtual art class, virtual bingo and more. Learn more: mdanderson.org/soccer
Cancer Prevention Education
Your risk for cancer is linked to many factors, and some people are at greater risk than others.
Certain ethnic groups and people with a family history of cancer have a higher cancer risk. So do people from sexual and gender minority groups, such as lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender individuals.
If you are a member of the LGBT community, you can take steps to reduce your risk for cancer.
We talked to MD Anderson Training Specialist Mary-Ann Ball, who has taught thousands of MD Anderson employees about the unique cancer prevention challenges faced by members of the LGBT community.
Find a doctor you trust
The most important thing is to try your best to find a doctor you can be totally honest with. This will help you in many ways. Not only will you be able to focus more closely on your health and not on the fear of being discovered.
Your doctor will also:
- be able to collect more accurate information and tailor medical care to you,
- more clearly understand the stresses in your life and get a better picture of what you need, and
- be able to help you ensure that your partner, if you have one, is included in your health care experience.
“Once you have established a trusting relationship, many other issues can be addressed more easily,” says Ball.
Stay on top of your routine health exams
When it comes to cancer, it’s important to find the disease early, when it’s easiest to treat. And it’s important to get the right screening exams at the right age.
Screening exams may correspond more closely with your gender at birth, even if you have been through a surgical transition. So, make sure your doctor knows the full story in order to help you get the right care.
“Each piece of information, including your gender identity and sexual orientation, and where you are with any transition, is important for your doctor to know,” says Ball.
Be aware of how hormones affect your cancer risk
Hormones play a part in the development of several types of cancer. So, if you take hormones as part of a gender transition or for another reason, this can raise your risk for cancer.
Make sure that you are open with your doctor. Be aware of your body and report any symptoms early so they can be investigated.
“For example, if you are a trans man who has not gone through surgery, and your doctor doesn’t know you were a female at birth, symptoms that could be linked to a disease like uterine cancer might get overlooked.”
Get help for tobacco, alcohol and drug use
Tobacco is the leading cause of cancer-related deaths, so it’s important to get help to quit.
“Research shows that members of the LGBT community are more likely to smoke or use other forms of tobacco like e-cigarettes,” says Ball.
The best way to quit tobacco is to use medications and get counseling.
Counseling is especially important if you struggle with problems like depression and anxiety. These can become difficult to cope with if you try to quit alone.
MD Anderson has several research studies that offer smoking cessation support for Texas residents. Fill out our screening questionnaire to find a study that’s right for you, no matter what stage you’re at in your quitting journey.
Be aware of your body and report any symptoms early so they can be investigated.
Get the HPV vaccine
The virus is spread through sexual contact. Condoms don’t protect against HPV because it lives on the skin.
In almost all cases, the body clears HPV without any symptoms. In a small number of cases, the virus stays for longer and causes cell changes that can lead to cancer many years in the future.
Everyone is at risk for HPV, although research shows that gay men have a higher risk of getting it.
The HPV vaccine protects you from most types of the virus. Everyone ages 9 to 26 should get the HPV vaccine. It is most effective when given at ages 11 to 12. Unvaccinated men and women ages 27 to 45 should talk to their doctor about the benefits of the HPV vaccine.
Maintain a healthy weight
If you are overweight or obese, your risk for cancer is higher because the extra weight causes inflammation in your body. It also leads to hormonal changes that are linked to cancer.
The best way to maintain a healthy weight it is to eat a plant-based diet and exercise.
A plant-based diet includes vegetables, fruits, whole grains and also allows lean protein like chicken, fish and plant proteins. Fill two-thirds of your plate with plants and the remaining one-third with lean protein.
Aim to get at least 150 minutes of moderate exercise or 75 minutes of vigorous exercise every week and do a strength training routine twice a week.
Find tailored help
Finally, it may be possible to find healthy living support programs specifically designed for the LGBT community. Programs that cater to your needs and background are likely to be most effective as you work to reduce your cancer risk.
“If you can find a program that is designed for you, it will be easier for you to stay connected to the vital health care support that you need,” says Ball.
Request an appointment at MD Anderson online or by calling 1-877-632-6789
If you have dark skin, you may think you have natural protection from sunburns, sun damage and skin cancer. But the relationship between skin color and skin cancer is complicated.
“People with dark skin may have the misconception that they are immune to skin cancer because their skin has more melanin – or pigment,” says Ana Ciurea, M.D. “While they are less likely to get skin cancer, they are still at risk.”
What should darker-skinned people know about their skin cancer risk?
the most serious form of skin cancer, is much more common in white men
and women than in Latinx or Black individuals.
But skin cancer is often detected in those with darker skin at later stages. So, their cancers are less likely to be treated successfully. For example, a recent study showed that only 67% of Black patients were alive five years after their diagnosis, compared to 92% of white patients.
Skin cancer is not harder to detect in people with dark skin. Yet, the lack of awareness among patients and medical care providers, along with the fact that the cancers develop in unusual locations, makes it less likely that cancers will be found.
“Skin cancer is highly curable if it’s found early,” says Ciurea. “The key is awareness.”
What skin cancer symptoms should darker skinned people look out for?
People with darker skin are more likely to develop skin cancer in
areas that aren’t exposed to the sun, like the palms, soles of the
feet, inside the mouth, in the groin area or under the nails. Between
30% and 40% of cases appear on the soles of the feet.
It’s a good idea to examine these areas regularly. And ask a friend, family member or your hairdresser to examine your scalp. Use a hand-held mirror for hard-to-see areas, and pay close attention to the feet, groin, hands and inside the mouth.
Look for dark spots that increase in size, change size, shape or color, bleed or become painful, as well as:
- Non-healing sores (cuts or wounds)
- Sores that go away and come back
- Sores that do not heal quickly
- Dark bands on the nails or around the nails
Basal cell carcinoma is the most common type of skin cancer in darker skin. It usually looks like a pink, firm nodule. It is most likely to appear on the legs, feet, anal or genital areas.
“The most important thing to look for is change. Any suspicious mole or spot should prompt a visit to a professional,” says Ciruea.
Do people with darker skin need sunscreen?
Yes. Melanin helps protect against sun damage and reduces the chances of sunburn. But dark skin can burn, and anyone can get skin cancer.
“Sunscreen helps, but the best way to protect your skin is to avoid the sun between 10 a.m. and 4 p.m., when the sun’s rays are strongest,” says Ciurea.
If you have to be outside, wear protective clothing, a broad-brimmed hat and sunglasses with broad-spectrum protection. And remember to reapply your sunscreen every two hours or after sweating or swimming.
Request an appointment at MD Anderson online or by calling 1-877-632-6789
Our Club, stakeholders and fans are all very passionate about the great work being done by the team at MD Anderson. It’s truly an honor to be associated with such an incredible institution – and to play a small role in Making Cancer History®.
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The Dynamo visit KIPP Houston High School for Kick Butts Day
Dynamo Diesel visits MD Anderson patients and staff
Fans pack BBVA Compass Stadium for opening night
MD Anderson and the Houston Dash team up to end cancer
Dash players Kristie Mewis, Jane Campbell, Rachel Daly