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Cancer Prevention

Healthy living choices can reduce your risk of cancer. Research shows that over 50% of cancer deaths can be reduced by:

  • Living Tobacco-Free - Being a non-smoker and avoiding second hand smoke reduces your risk of tobacco related cancers like lung, oral and cervical.
  • Limiting alcohol consumption - When it comes to alcohol, there is no clear safe limit. The more you drink the higher your risk of developing cancer of the mouth, neck, throat, liver, breast, colon and rectum. The Canadian Cancer Society recommends that women drink less than 1 standard drink and men less than 2 standard drinks a day.
  • Healthy Eating - Eating 5-10 servings of vegetables and fruit a day, and choosing high fibre, lower fat foods can reduce your risk of developing cancers like colorectal, stomach, kidney, breast, prostate and others.
  • Physical Activity - Being physically active on a regular basis helps to maintain a healthy body weight and promote proper functioning of body organs. Physical activity has been shown to reduce the risk of developing colorectal cancer, breast cancer and possibly prostate cancer.
  • Practising Sun Safety - Reducing sun exposure especially from 11 a.m. - 3 p.m., wearing sun screen and seeking shade helps to reduce the risk of developing skin cancer.
  • Following Cancer Screening Guidelines for breast, cervical, colorectal and prostate cancer. Even if you make healthy choices, you could still develop cancer so screening is important. When cancer is found and treated early, the chances of successful treatment are better.
  • Healthy Workplaces - Reduction of stress at work, and the proper handling and/or exposure to hazardous materials are important for reducing cancer risks and maintaining the health of staff and workers.

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Cancer Screening Guidelines

Cancer screening for adults regardless of gender, ethnicity or family history is important. Regular screening can find changes or abnormalities before cancers begin.

  • Breast Screening: All women should be breast aware and know how their breasts normally look and feel. Women 50 years and over should get regular breast cancer screening with mammography every two years. See  Breast Health for more information.
  • Cervical Screening: Women should have a pap test every 3 years once sexually active starting at age 21. See  Cervical Health for more information.
  • Prostate Screening: A yearly physical prostate exam is recommended for men over 50. Discuss the risks and benefits of prostate screening with your doctor. For more information, visit What is prostate cancer? External Link - Canadian Cancer Society.
  • Colorectal Screening:
    • Men and Women 50-74 years of average risk should have a Fecal Occult Blood Test (FOBT) at least every two years. The test is easy and can be done at home. It checks for blood in a stool sample. For more information see the following links:
    • People at any age who have a parent, sibling or child who have had colorectal cancer may be at increased risk and should discuss this more with your doctor. Your doctor may feel you should have a colonoscopy at age 50 or 10 years earlier than the relative's age at diagnosis, whichever occurs first.

* It is important to discuss these tests and your family history with your doctor.