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Grace Kong, PhD, in honor of Cancer Prevention Awareness Month

February 20, 2022

As we honor national cancer prevention month, what do you feel is the most important message to share with our community (patients/colleagues/general community)?

Cancer prevention often requires making lifestyle changes such as quitting smoking and engaging in healthy eating. Although it’s never too late to make these changes, early prevention is important to significantly lower cancer rates across the population. Cancer prevention efforts should target youth when youth are beginning to independently make these behavioral decisions. However, a challenge in implementing these changes is that youth are more focused on the here and now and they are less influenced by the prevention messages that focus on the long term negative health effects. Cancer prevention messages should be tailored to youth, using messages that resonate with youth, and delivered in platforms that youth use. It is also important to keep in mind that youth are not mini-adults. What resonates with adults may not be the same for youth.

Cancer prevention is one of the key priorities following the NCI’s 50th anniversary of the National Cancer Act. How can we prioritize cancer prevention in our daily lives?

Even as adults it is hard to change our behavior for a negative outcome that we think might be far in the future or that we think won't ever happen to us. But many of the actions that prevent cancer can also benefit our immediate health. I would suggest setting concrete goals that will help you achieve both short and long term positive outcomes. For example, making a goal to walk for 15 minutes a day or even signing up for a 5k run is a great motivator to not only make you feel better, but also reduce your risk of cancer. It's never too late!

Submitted by Emily Montemerlo on February 21, 2022