What can I do to prevent cancer?
There's no way to be sure you'll never get cancer. However, some things can lower the risk of certain cancers:
Don't smoke and avoid being around smoke: Lung, kidney, bladder, head, neck, mouth, and tongue cancer
Don't use smokeless tobacco (snuff or chew): Head, neck, mouth, and tongue cancer
Don't drink too much alcohol: Head, neck, liver, and esophageal (the tube that connects your throat to your stomach) cancer
Avoid prolonged exposure to sunlight and use sunscreen: Skin cancer
Be careful at work so you don't come in contact with chemicals that can cause cancer: Various cancers
Get vaccines that can prevent types of cancer that are caused by viruses:
HPV vaccine Human Papillomavirus (HPV) Vaccine The human papillomavirus (HPV) vaccine helps protect against infection by the strains of HPV that are most likely to cause the following: Cervical cancer, vaginal cancer, and vulvar cancer in... read more to prevent cervical, vaginal, vulvar, penile, throat, and anal cancer
Not everyone needs the vaccines, so talk to your doctor about whether you do.
Screening tests to find cancer early aren't really prevention. However, cancer treatment works best when started early. Talk to your doctor about whether you should have screening tests such as the following:
A mammogram Mammography Breast cancer occurs when cells in the breast become abnormal and divide uncontrollably. Breast cancer usually starts in the glands that produce milk (lobules) or the tubes (ducts) that carry... read more (x-ray of your breast) to find breast cancer: Women over age 40 or 50
A Pap test Screening for Cervical Cancer Sometimes doctors recommend screening tests, which are tests that are done to look for disorders in people who have no symptoms. If women have symptoms related to the reproductive system (gynecologic... read more to find cervical cancer: Most women between age 21 and 65
Colonoscopy or other tests to find colon cancer: Most people starting between age 45 to 50
Other tests may be appropriate if you have increased risk of certain cancers (for example, a cancer that runs in your family).
What other actions may help prevent cancer?
Doctors don't know for sure whether diet and physical activity will keep you from getting cancer, but they may help. In any case, these things are good for you to do:
Eat a diet of low-fat foods, such as lean meats and low-fat dairy products
Limit how much processed meat, such as deli meat, you eat
Eat lots of fruits and vegetables
Eat lots of whole-grain foods, such as brown rice
Get physical activity
Keep your weight at a healthy level