Cancer prevention starts with education

October is Women's Health Awareness month and women are encouraged to take simple steps for a longer, healthier and happier life.

October is Women’s Health Awareness month and women are encouraged to take simple steps for a longer, healthier and happier life.

In honour of Women’s Health Awareness month, two local women share their stories of early detection and success in beating cancer.

Local resident Kaye Mackereth said her mother died of breast cancer, so she started getting mammograms when she was in her early 30s

“I went every year, even though I was told that after 50 I only needed to go every other year.”

“They found my cancer when it was only the size of a pin head and after the biopsy it proved to be more extensive and I had a double mastectomy.”

She said it was because her cancer was discovered early enough no further treatments were necessary other than a check up every six months.

“Get checked, it’s worth it,” she said.

Local Rhoda Anderson agrees.

“I am a nine year survivor of uterine cancer, My cancer was detected early by a pap smear,” she said.

Anderson had a complete hysterectomy and didn’t require other treatments because the cancer was just beginning.

“I continue to ensure that I always have regular screening tests.”

She said it is very important to pay attention to your body and if something irregular is happening to see a doctor.

“When cancer is detected in the early stages it can be cured,” she said.

According to Anderson, healthy lifestyles such as exercise, a healthy diet, not smoking, limiting alcohol, avoiding tanning beds and excessing sun tanning and avoiding cosmetic pesticides in the garden as well as having regular check ups prevent 50 per cent of all cancers.

Breast cancer is the most common cancer in women. According to the Canadian Cancer Society, simply just being a woman and getting older are the biggest risk factors for breast cancer.

The CCS recommend women aged between 40 and 49 talk to a doctor about the risks of breast cancer. Women between the ages of 50 and 69 should have a mammogram every two years and women aged 70 plus should talk to a doctor about how often they you should have a mammogram.

Colorectal cancer is also common in women but can be treated successfully when detected at an early stage. It’s most common in people over 50 but can appear earlier.

Screening saves lives. If you are 50 or older have a stool test at least every two years, know the signs and risks especially if there is colorectal cancer in the family.

Cervical cancer can be detected with a pap test. The main risk factor for developing cervical cancer is the human papillomavirus (HPV). If you become sexually active, start having a regular pap test by the time you are 21.

Two vaccines are now available that protect against some strains of HPV.

For more information go to www.cancer.ca. Women’s Health Day is also in October and a celebration will be held on Oct. 20 from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. at the Burns Lake Canadian Cancer Society office on Hwy. 16.