DHEC Encourages Preventive Measures, Screenings During National Cancer Prevention Month
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:
Feb. 8, 2024
COLUMBIA, S.C. — In observation of National Cancer Prevention Month in February, the South Carolina Department of Health and Environmental Control (DHEC) is reminding residents about the risk factors associated with certain types of cancer and steps they can take to lower their risk of developing cancer.
In 2020, there were 27,362 new cases of cancer in South Carolina, and 11,062 South Carolinians died from cancer in the same year.
“Cancer is consistently one of the leading causes of death in South Carolina,” said Vinita Leedom, Director of Cancer Programs at DHEC. “There are preventive measures that can be taken to reduce the risk of certain types of cancer. We encourage all residents to learn about these risk factors in hopes that we can lower the number of preventable cancers that occur in our state each year.”
While certain cancer risk factors, like family history and aging, can’t be changed, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends making healthy choices to lower your risk of getting cancer. Those include:
- Avoid tobacco and secondhand smoke to lower your risk of lung and several other types of cancer.
- Protect your skin from ultraviolet rays from the sun and tanning beds, which increase your risk of skin cancer, the most common form of cancer in the United States.
- Limit the amount of alcohol you drink to decrease your risk of six types of cancer.
- Keep a healthy weight, as being overweight is linked with higher risk for 13 types of cancer.
- Get tested for hepatitis C to help prevent liver cancer.
Vaccines also help lower your risk for certain types of cancer.
DHEC recommends all 11- or 12-year-olds receive two doses of the human papillomavirus (HPV) vaccine to protect against infections that can cause cancers later in life. The CDC also recommends getting the hepatitis B vaccine to help lower liver cancer risk.
Regular cancer screenings are recommended for people at certain ages and for those with potential risk factors. Screenings can help detect the need for interventions before the development of certain types of cancer, like breast, colorectal, and cervical cancer. Screenings have the biggest impact by the early detection of cancer.
“Early diagnosis can play a critical role in effective treatment,” said Leedom. “The earlier cancer is detected and treated, the greater the chance of survival and for some, the less intensive treatment is needed.”
For additional resources about various types of cancer, screenings, and programs, visit scdhec.gov/cancer.