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Cancer is the second leading cause of death among Latinos

Por Carola Sixto -

The most common are breast, colorectal and lung cancers. Healthy habits play an important role in prevention. Medical checkups are important for an early detection of the disease. 
One in five Hispanic men and one in six Hispanic women will die of cancer, according to estimates by the American Cancer Society. Among men, prostate cancer is most frequent, while breast cancer is most common among women, making cancer the second leading cause of death among the Hispanic population.

While it isn’t possible to find the cause of cancer in each patient, there are certain factors that increase its risk: tobacco, poor diet, sedentary lifestyle, obesity, prolonged exposure to sunlight, some viruses and bacteria, hormones, history of cancer in the family, alcohol, exposure to certain types of radiation and chemicals.

Of all cancers, the ones that mostly affect Hispanics are those of breast, prostate, colorectal and lungs, says the American Cancer Society.

Better Safe than Sorry

Cancer doesn’t cause any symptoms on the early onset of the disease. Therefore, regular check-ups are essential for an early detection. This way, the possibilities of successful treatment increase. Still, there are no tests available to detect all types of cancers. The most commonly performed tests are:

•  To detect breast cancer:mammography, a clinical examination, and regular self-examinations to detect any lumps or changes, starting at age 20.
•  For prostate cancer:PSA blood test and digital test every year, starting at age 50 in men; if there’s family history of prostate cancer, starting at age 45.
•  To detect cervical cancer:pap smear, a test that involves taking a sample of cells from a woman’s cervix. It can be performed starting at 21 years of age or three years after the beginning of sexual activity.
•  To detect colorectal cancer:clinical evaluation, colonoscopy, radiography, sigmoidoscopy, fecal occult blood test, or barium contrast, after 50 years of age or before if there’s family history.
•  For skin cancer:rutinary clinical test to evaluate changes in moles, freckles or other skin marks. If detected in its early stages, this type of cancer can be completely removed. It’s therefore important to consult if new moles or skin marks are noticed, as well as if the existing ones change or bleed.

Despite scientific progress, there’s still no test to detect lung cancer which is the second leading cause of cancer death among Hispanic women. If any of these signs appear, it’s important to consult your doctor: a persistent cough that gets worse over time, constant chest pain, coughing blood, shortness of breath, wheezing or hoarseness, repeated lung infections, swelling of neck and face, loss of appetite or unexplained weight loss, fatigue.

Eighty five percent of lung cancer patients became ill due to tobacco consumption, so surely the best measure to prevent it is to avoid or quit smoking.

For more information:

Source: Cancer Facts & Figures for Hispanics / Latinos 2009-2011, American Cancer Society / Knowledge of Cancer for Hispanic Women, American Cancer Society


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