My Cancer Risk: What Do I Need to Know?
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Certain risk factors, including genetics, may raise your cancer risk. Therese Bevers, M.D., medical director of the Cancer Prevention Center at MD Anderson, discusses factors that may put you at increased risk for cancer.
First off, your own personal health history; there are some medical conditions that can increase your risk of developing cancer. For example, inflammatory bowel disease increases the risk of colon cancer. Having a history of colon polyps that are precancerous increases your risk of colon cancer. If you have an HPV infection, human papillomavirus, that can increase your risk for a number of cancers: cervical, and oral, and anal, and penile. So, knowing these risks help us to identify who is at increase risk and may need additional or more frequent screening. Additionally, a cancer survivor is at increase risk of a second primary cancer. In other words, a totally new cancer, generally unrelated to the first although in some cases it may be related to a common genetic link or even to the treatment that we offered for the original cancer.
Certainly, having a family history of cancer puts an individual at increase risk especially if they have identified mutation in cancer causing genes and there are several of those genes that have been identified such as for breast cancer. Many of us have heard about B-R-C-A or BRCA. There's also genes for colon cancer and others. Racial and ethnic background can increase your risk. I think probably a lot of the men in the room are familiar that African-American men are at higher risk of developing prostate cancer. Hispanic women are at higher risk of cervical cancer. Ashkenazi Jewish women are at higher risk of breast cancers. So, these are all factors that we want to consider in understanding what an individual's cancer risk is. We have developed a cancer risk check and it's on the MD Anderson website. If you go to mdanderson.org/riskcheck, you can go in and answer a series of questions and it will help you to understand what your cancer risk is and what cancer screening test we would recommend based on that individual level of cancer risk.
Therese Bevers, M.D., professor in the Department Clinical Cancer Prevention and medical director of the Cancer Prevention Center at MD Anderson discusses risk factors for cancer at the 2011 Prostate Health Conference, "Protect Your Prostate: Get the Facts," September 10, 2011, Houston, Texas.
John W. Davis, M.D., assistant professor in the Department of Urology at MD Anderson, chairs this educational conference for healthy men and those with prostate cancer, as well as their families. The Prostate Health Conference updates men on current issues in prostate health, prostate cancer, cancer risk factors, treatment, research, education and prevention.
MD Anderson has specific screening plans for men and women, based on their chances of getting cancer. The exam you get and how often you are tested depends on whether you are at average, increased or high risk for cancer. People at increased risk have a higher chance of getting the disease than those at average risk.
It's important to know if people in your family have had cancer and, if so, what type. This information, along with your personal health history, helps your health care provider find out if you're at increased or high risk. You and your doctor can use this information to make a well-informed decision about cancer screening.
View the complete 2011 Prostate Health Conference: http://bit.ly/y10drf