Cancer in young people is on the rise. Millennials, people born around 1980-1999. For some Millennials, many don’t go to the doctor unless their condition is severe; others may be experiencing financial issues and lack proper medical coverage. Millennials are often focusing their priorities on college, career, dating, starting a family, and more, which could mean less time to focus on their own health.
However, it’s still crucial for young people to start thinking about cancer prevention and learning about cancer risk factors. When a doctor can detect cancer in its earliest stages, survival rates often increase, and a cancer care team can create a treatment plan before cancer spreads.
What Are Cancer Risk Factors?
A cancer risk factor is the chance or probability that a patient may develop a certain type of cancer. Most of the time, doctors can determine Millennial cancer risk by their family medical history. Many cancers like Melanoma, breast, colorectal, thyroid cancers can be passed down generations. If your family has a history of genetic cancers, talk to your doctor about your risk factors, and ask whether a screening test is necessary at your age.
In addition to family history, a person’s lifestyle choices and habits can determine cancer risk. Things like smoking, drinking excessive amounts of alcohol, lack of exercise and unhealthy eating can increase a person’s cancer risk.
When should I talk to a doctor?
Because cancer is often uncommon in young people, many doctors might avoid giving a Millennial a cancer screening. However, you should never ignore certain severe symptoms.
Talk to your doctor if you notice any of the following unexplained symptoms:
- Strange lump in your neck, breast, stomach, testicle, or other areas on your body
- Sudden tiredness or loss of energy
- Bruising easily
- Excessive bleeding
- Ongoing pain in a certain area
- Frequent severe headaches
- Unexpected weight loss
- Mole or mark on skin that changes color, size, shape
Preventing Cancer in Young People
You can start now to prevent cancer in young people. Here are some tips to maintain a healthy lifestyle and lower your cancer risk factor at an early age.
Avoid tobacco use
Lung cancer is a leading cause of death in men and women in America. And people who smoke increase their risk factor for this cancer about 25 percent more than those who don’t smoke. Tobacco can also be related to many other cancer types like cancer of the cervix, stomach, larynx, and colon.
Maintain and healthy weight and diet
Having a healthy lifestyle may reduce the risk of cancer in young people. Doctors recommend reaching a body weight that is lean without becoming underweight for your height and age. To start a healthy lifestyle, try to do regular exercise for about 30 minutes a day. Limit your consumption of alcohol and foods high in fat and added sugars. These things can help reduce your risk of developing cancer by about 10 percent.
Protect your skin from the sun
Excessive exposure to the sun, as well as tanning beds, can cause skin cancer or melanoma. When you’re out in the sunshine—no matter the season—protect your skin with a strong sunscreen of SPF 30 or higher. Also, limit or avoid tanning bed usage.
Visit your doctor regularly
Regular visits to the doctor is a crucial part of cancer prevention in Millennials. Regular checkups and routine physical exams can screen for abnormal symptoms and warning signs in the thyroid, testicles, ovaries, lymph nodes, mouth, throat, and skin. Ask your doctor about screenings for certain cancers that are appropriate for your age and cancer risk factors. These screenings can check for signs of cancer early, even before symptoms occur.
Here are some ways young people can prevent cancer early:
- HPV vaccinations: They can prevent HPV, which could lead to cervical cancer
- Hepatitis B vaccination: Hep B could lead to liver cancer
- Cervical cancer screenings through Pap tests early as age 21
- Regular self-breast exam to check for lumps or abnormalities in the breasts
It’s also important to talk to your doctor about any hereditary risk factors and go over your family’s medical history. This can help determine whether your risk for a certain cancer is greater than others.
Talk to a Doctor Today
If you’re concerned about your cancer risk factor, contact Comprehensive Cancer Centers of Nevada for more information or visit your general practitioner. At Comprehensive, we provide patient resources for our current patients and people looking to educate themselves about cancer prevention. Visit our website today to learn more: www.cccnevada.com.