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by Stephanie Taylor, HHSC ASC Researcher

World Cancer Day on Feb. 4 is recognized worldwide to raise awareness and encourage the prevention, detection and treatment of cancer.

The Paris Charter established World Cancer Day in 2000 to promote research for cures and prevention, improve patient services and mobilize the global community against cancer. One of every five deaths in the U.S. is due to cancer, making it the second-leading cause of death, exceeded only by heart disease. According to the Texas Cancer Registry (TCR), 99,642 adults ages 50 and older were diagnosed with cancer in 2020. This is a decrease from the 108,726 adults in that age group who were diagnosed in 2019. Among those older adults diagnosed with cancer in 2020, 46,433 were female and 53,209 were male.

In 2020, the top five most common cancer areas in the body for adults ages 50 or older in Texas were the breast, prostate, lung and bronchus, colon and rectum, and kidney and renal pelvis, according to the TCR.

“Age is the most important risk factor for cancer,” said Ramona Magid, chief prevention officer with the Cancer Prevention and Research Institute of Texas. “Healthy lifestyle choices can possibly reduce the chances of getting cancer. Higher risk lifestyle choices include smoking, alcohol consumption, physical inactivity, obesity and eating an unhealthy diet. It’s important to consult with a health care provider to determine the appropriate cancer screening tests based on individual health history and risk factors.”

The most important cancer risk factors that can be changed are body weight, diet and physical activity. At least 18% of all cancers diagnosed in the U.S. are related to preventable conditions like excess body weight, physical inactivity, excess alcohol consumption and poor nutrition.

Avoiding tobacco products, staying at a recommended weight, being active throughout life and eating a nutritious diet can greatly reduce the risk of developing or dying from cancer. These same behaviors are also linked with a lower risk of heart disease and diabetes.

The Texas Health and Human Services Texercise statewide health and wellness initiative encourages people and communities to adopt healthy lifestyle habits. People are encouraged to download the Texercise Health Chart using the Aging Well Resources Order Form to track their health information.

The Texas Department of State Health Services also provides cancer resources for patients, caregivers and families.

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