The following news release was issued by the North Bay and District Health Council around noon today:
REDUCING RISK OF CANCER IMPORTANT THROUGHOUT THE YEAR
For the North Bay & District Health Unit, offering education and resources during Cancer Month in April is just one piece of a year ’round strategy to raise awareness about the importance of screening and the active role people can take to reduce their risk of cancer.
Public Health Nurse Céline Rivet said, “Cervical cancer and the Pap test are the focus of Cancer Month, and we urge all women who are or have been sexually active to make the test part of their regular health check-up. According to Cancer Care Ontario, cervical cancer is 90 per cent preventable, and the Pap test is the only current screening tool for this type of cancer. At the Health Unit, we work throughout the year to raise awareness about cancer and the screening options available so that people can play an active role people in protecting themselves from cancer.”
Other screening includes breast screening through the Ontario Breast Screening Program (OBSP) for women 50 years of age and over, and the fecal occult blood test, or FOBT, a test used to check for indications of colorectal cancer. People should speak to their health care provider about this test. The Health Unit has print and web-based resources on these and other types of cancers.
Rivet said awareness-raising activities don’t stop once Cancer Month is over. Sun Safety Awareness Week, from May 31 to June 6, puts the spotlight on the harmful effects of the sun’s UVA and UVB rays on the skin. The Health Unit will provide educational sessions for parents at the Early Years Centres during this period. Sun safety activities and a display will also be available during the Show Kids You Care carnival day at Northgate Shopping Centre on June 19. According to Rivet, easy and effective measures people can take to protect themselves from the sun’s rays include applying sunscreen at any time of the year, and wearing hats and light clothing with long sleeves and pants during the summer months.
Breast cancer awareness month, in October, highlights the importance and effectiveness of breast screening through the OBSP. According to Rivet, 70 per cent of all women with breast cancer have no risk factors, other than being a woman. She said that 75 per cent of breast cancers occur in women over 50 years old, so the mammogram is an important tool in the early detection of cancer. Breast health guidelines from the Canadian Cancer Society suggest a mammogram every two years for women 50 to 74 years of age. The Health Unit recommends that all women also discuss the benefits and risks of breast self-examination with their health care provider.
Following the Canadian Cancer Society’s Seven Steps to Health can help people take an active role in decreasing their risk of developing cancer:
1. Choose to be a non-smoker and avoid second-hand smoke.
2. Choose a variety of lower-fat, high-fibre foods. Maintain a healthy body weight and limit your alcohol intake.
3. Protect yourself and your family from the sun. Practise regular skin examinations and report any changes immediately.
4. Regularly scheduled Pap tests and mammograms, according to the age, are vital. Practise monthly breast self-examination.*
5. See your doctor and dentist regularly for check-ups.
6. Be aware of any changes in your normal state of health. If you discover a lump or a mole that has changed, or a sore that does not heal, check with your doctor immediately.
7. At home and at work, follow health and safety instructions when using hazardous materials.
* The Health Unit recommends that you discuss the benefits and risks of breast self-examination and the frequency of your Pap tests and mammograms with your health care provider.
For more information or cancer resources, call Céline Rivet, public health nurse with the North Bay & District Health Unit, at (705) 474-1400, ext 209, or visit www.nbdhu.on.ca or:
The Canadian Cancer Society: (705) 472-9072 / www.cancer.ca
Cancer Information Services: 1-888-939-3333
Cancer Care Ontario: www.cancercare.on.ca