2010-07-09 / Community

Far Rockaway Library Hosts Cancer Training 101

By Miriam Rosenberg

Abby Dunn, a community mission manager for the American Cancer Society, explains the risks and detection measures for various cancers during a Cancer 101 training meeting on July 1. Abby Dunn, a community mission manager for the American Cancer Society, explains the risks and detection measures for various cancers during a Cancer 101 training meeting on July 1. The Queens Library, working with the American Cancer Society – as part of the library’s HealthLink program – presented Cancer Training 101 at the Far Rockaway Library on July 1. The presentation was associated with the library’s Cancer Action Councils (CAC) located at the Far Rockaway and Arverne branches.

While each type of cancer spotlighted has different risk factors and detection techniques, there was one common message – early detection and screening saves lives.

“Catching it early has so much higher rate of success no matter what type of cancer, if you take advantage of screenings,” said Abby Dunn, a community missions manager for the ACS.

It is important, Dunn said, to know the risk factors and detection methods. In addition to speaking about breast, cervical, colorectal and prostate cancer, Dunn also touched on the subject of skin cancer.

As the sun beats down on us during the summer, people need to remember that “Anyone can [get] melanoma and you can get it anywhere [on your body],” said Dunn.

According to the ACS website, skin cancer is the most common type of cancer with one million cases diagnosed annually in the U.S. People should check their skin regularly for any suspicious spots, and ask their doctor for a skin exam during checkups. In the meantime, wear a hat, long sleeves (if possible), UV protective clothing and most importantly wear sunscreen on any exposed part of your body.

The risk of breast cancer increases with age and exposure to reproductive hormones such as estrogen. It is 100 times more common in women than in men, but men do get it. Dunn said that women should begin getting mammograms at 40.

While mammograms are painful, Dunn said, “It hurts a lot less than getting surgery, chemotherapy or radiation.”

Cervical cancer, which has no relation to ovarian cancer, is known as the silent killer.

“There aren’t a lot of symptoms,” said Dunn.

Cervical cancer occurs only in women, usually during childbearing years and beyond. A pap test can identify abnormal cells in the cervix. Risk factors are having sex at an early age, having HIV or being a smoker.

The risk for prostate cancer increases as a man gets older, especially after 50. Family history and being of African- American descent are also risk factors for the disease. A PSA (Prostate Specific Antigen) blood test or DRE (Digital Rectal Examination) can be used to detect prostate cancer. Painful or difficult urination or blood in the urine are possible signs of prostate cancer.

“It is up to men to speak with their doctor,” said Dunn.

There is one cancer that is preventable – colon cancer. It shows up in people over 50 or with a personal history or family history of polyps or colon cancer. Risk factors include a high-fat diet (especially from red meat), a diet low in fruits and vegetables, obesity, limited physical activity and smoking.

“Preventive measures are so important,” said Dunn.

By making a few changes in how they live, people can decrease their risk of getting cancer.

Physical activity (at least 30 minutes five to seven days a week), protection from the sun, eating a healthy diet, and the discontinuance of tobacco use (which causes 1/3 of all cancer deaths) can go a long way to prevent cancer.

The training provided those who attended the July 1 meeting with information to take back to their organizations and people in the community. Agencies can also request presentations by calling Dunn at 718-261-1092, extension 5523. The event was also an opportunity for ACS to announce the Making Strides Against Breast Cancer Walk scheduled for October 17.

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