Women’s Health Week 2022: Preventing Top Cancers in Women

Posted on: May 12, 2022

written by

Karina Kagramanov

The memories we make on Mother’s Day are ones that we will cherish for the rest of our lives. As children, the holiday meant seeing our mothers’ bright smiles as we handed them our homemade expressions of appreciation consisting of crayon drawings on construction paper. As adults, gifting our mothers fancy perfumes and shiny jewelry, we start to notice new lines now formed around her smile, coming to the bittersweet realization that our gift giving skills aren’t all that’s matured.

While Mother’s Day reminds us to treasure the time we have with the women we love, it also appropriately marks another celebration with the purpose of keeping them in our lives longer: National Women’s Health Week (NWHW). A part of the larger Women’s Health Month, Women’s Health Week is annually kicked off on Mother’s Day, and empowers women to prioritize their health, and understand what steps they can take to improve it.

Cancer is the 2nd leading cause of death for American women, topped only by heart disease. This Women’s Health Week, Barton Associates has compiled a list of the top 3 cancers most commonly affecting women in the United States, with preventative care and early detection tips. Find more tips on which preventative and early detection measures you can take in our Complete Women's Health Checklists!

Skin Cancer

    Skin cancer is not only the most common cancer in women, it is the most common cancer in the United States in general. With current estimates projecting 1 in 5 people developing skin cancer within their lifetimes, it is of paramount importance to keep up with recommended preventative and early detection measures.

    It goes without saying that everyone should be practicing sun safety in the form of wearing sunscreen. It is important to wear sunscreen every day, even in the winter as UV rays can reach your skin through clouds and reflecting off surfaces such as cement, water, snow, and sand.

    The CDC recommends wearing a broad spectrum sunscreen with an SPF of 15 or higher. Keep in mind that sunscreen should be applied directly to the skin under any moisturizers or makeup, but there are many moisturizer and foundation options out there that have your daily SPF built right in!

    Contrary to popular belief, a tan is not an indicator of good health, and any glow you may get from tanning beds is definitely not worth its risk. Tanning beds expose you to high levels of UV rays, which can cause skin cancer and other health conditions, especially over time.

    Past saying no to tanning beds and wearing your daily SPF, women should also have annual checkups with a dermatologist, and conduct monthly self skin exams, watching out for any new freckles, moles, and discolorations. If you do spot something new or concerning, call up your dermatologist to get it checked immediately. If caught early, malignant cells can be biopsied, and removed in a simple, in-office procedure.

    Breast Cancer

      Second only to skin cancer, breast cancer is the most common cancer in American women, making up a staggering 30% of all new cancers in women per year. The American Cancer Society projects about 287,850 new diagnoses of invasive breast cancer in women in 2022. Unfortunately, there is no surefire way to prevent breast cancer, however, there are many preventative and early detection actions that women can take to lower their risk.

      Many studies have shown that physical activity is linked to lower breast cancer risk, so it’s important for women to maintain an active lifestyle. The American Cancer Society recommends that women get or exceed 75-150 minutes of high intensity or 150-300 minutes of moderate intensity activity every week.

      Alcohol is also linked to higher risk of developing breast cancer, even in small amounts. The best way to reduce your alcohol-related risk is to avoid drinking altogether, but if we’re being honest, we all know going cold turkey isn’t realistic for everyone. Instead, try to limit your alcohol intake to no more than 1 standard drink per day.

      Breast cancer that is found in earlier stages is more easily treatable, has more treatment options, and has higher survival rates. As such, it’s important to keep up with your self breast exams, OB/GYN appointments, and mammograms. It is recommended that women conduct self breast exams monthly, get a breast exam from their OB/GYN annually, and, for women aged 50 or older, get a mammogram every 2 years.

      Lung Cancer

        The scariest thing about lung cancer is that it generally doesn’t present any symptoms until its more advanced stages. It is also the leading cause of cancer related deaths worldwide. As a silent and deadly killer, it’s important to know how you can prevent and detect lung cancer.

        Smoking and exposure to secondhand smoke cause the large majority of lung cancers. When you inhale cigarette smoke, whether first or secondhand, the carcinogens it contains start to damage your cells and lung tissue almost immediately.

        If you’re already a smoker, it’s never too late to quit, and there are plenty of resources to get help. The good news is that since your lungs are self healing, they begin the process of repairing themselves after you smoke your last cigarette. If you haven’t ever smoked, don’t pick it up, and avoid secondhand smoke as best as you can.

        The best way to detect lung cancer early is to ask your doctor for a screening before you develop any symptoms if you are at high risk. It is recommended that adults aged 50-80 who smoke at least 20 packs per year, or have within the past 15 years, get an annual low-dose computed tomography (LDCT) scan (also called a low-dose spiral CT scan or helical CT scan) annually.

        Women already have many obstacles to overcome in their lifetimes, and cancer shouldn’t have to be one of them. This Women’s Health Week, we encourage women to put themselves first by making their health a priority.

        For more comprehensive information on which medical exams, screenings, and vaccines you should be getting, as well as when and how frequently you should get them based on your age, check out our full Women’s Health Care Checklists for recommendations for every adult age group.

        About Karina Kagramanov

        As the Content Marketing Copywriter at Barton Associates, Karina conceptualizes and creates engaging written and video content for Barton and its two children companies, Barton Healthcare Staffing and Wellhart. They joined Barton in March of 2021 after graduating from UMass Amherst with Bachelor degrees in Integrated Business & Humanities and Communication. They are currently pursuing their Masters Degree in Digital Marketing at Southern New Hampshire University. In their free time, you can find Karina training at their local boxing gym or learning how to cook a new pasta recipe. 

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