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Awareness is key to addressing concerns about diseases like cancer

Awareness is key to addressing concerns about diseases like cancer
By the time most of us are at the age of five or six, we have become problem solvers. Whether it was stacking rings, tackling puzzles, or finding Waldo, the games we played gradually advanced our problem-solving abilities. Fast forward to adulthood. By this time, our problem-solving skills might be credited with helping us land a job, purchase a place to live, win the heart of a life partner and more.

But if you’re not using your well-practiced problem-solving abilities when it comes to your health you could be missing an opportunity. You can reduce your risk of getting diseases like cancer by putting your problem-solving skills to work. Here’s how.

Some common cancers such as colon and rectal cancers and breast cancer can form with little or no early symptoms and grow undetected for years. Trying to avoid one of these harder-to-detect cancers requires help. Remember problem-solving 101 – the first step in any problem-solving process is becoming aware.

This is why regular physical exams and age or health history-appropriate health screening tests are so important. “Awareness is critical to prevention and early treatment of cancer,” says Shermian Woodhouse, MD, radiation oncologist at Carle Cancer Institute Normal. “Screenings and testing can help identify abnormal cells that would become cancer if left untreated as well as allow for early diagnosis and treatment of existing cancer before symptoms appear.”

Being aware of your risk for cancer and following the schedule for recommended screening tests based on your age and medical history can help you avoid unwanted health outcomes. The increased awareness can also activate your problem-solving skills as you begin identifying additional ways to preserve your health like adopting healthier lifestyle choices such as eating a healthy diet, keeping physically active, watching your weight and avoiding tobacco.

“Have a conversation with your primary care physician and share with him or her the diseases that run in your family along with any concerns you have”, says Matilde Francois, MD, breast surgeon and member of the comprehensive breast cancer treatment team at Carle Cancer Institute Normal. “Your doctor can help you decide which screenings are right for you and can discuss potential risks and benefits of each screening test.”

If you do uncover a problem, a screening test may allow you to find it sooner rather than later, at a time when it’s easier to treat. Once identified, multidisciplinary treatment teams like those offered at Carle Cancer Institute Normal for colorectal cancer and breast cancer can help you maintain your quality of life and prevent premature death.

“Knowledge is power. With awareness we can help you chart your best course of action,” explains Darryl Fernandes, MD, general and colorectal surgeon and part of the new multidisciplinary colorectal cancer team at Carle Cancer Institute Normal.

Personalized care from a comprehensive team of specialists is available close to home at Carle Cancer Institute Normal. Together with the Carle Cancer Institute in Urbana, Carle Health is a central Illinois leader in treating and supporting patients in their battle against cancer.

For more information about the wide range of cancer and supportive care services at Carle, visit the Carle Health website.
 

Categories: Culture of Quality

Tags: Bloomington-Normal, BroMenn, Cancer, Eureka

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