Cancer Prevention and Screenings

Cancer prevention

About half of cancer deaths can be avoided with healthy lifestyle choices. Together with Henry Ford Health System, you can learn about the best ways to keep your mind and body healthy, and decrease your chances of getting cancer.

Eat a healthy, balanced diet and stay active

Eat a healthy, balanced diet to prevent obesity and support a strong immune system. Both lower your risk for cancer. Henry Ford Health System has resources that can help you achieve these goals:

  • Stay healthy as a family by following the 5-2-1-0 game plan.
  • Attend classes at the Demonstration Kitchen (DK) in West Bloomfield, the ideal destination for both adults and children to explore healthy lifestyles and learn about the importance of nutrition for overall health and wellness. All of our healthy cooking classes are designed to educate people on the benefits of eating healthy and cooking fun, flavorful meals with tips that are easy to implement into everyday life.
  • Visit our health and wellness blog, Henry Ford LiveWell, to learn more about how what you eat may affect your risk of cancer.

Stay active. Talk to your doctor about the types of exercise that are right for you. The Henry Ford Disease Prevention through Exercise and Education program (PREVENT) is a medically supervised exercise program that can help improve your health and fitness in a safe and supportive atmosphere. With many locations throughout Southeast Michigan, our trained clinical staff will provide you with:

  • A personal fitness assessment by a clinical exercise physiologist
  • An individualized exercise program
  • Access to group exercise classes (e.g., chair aerobics, yoga, etc.) and nutrition classes
  • Education on ways to make healthy lifestyle change

The Henry Ford Vita Wellness Center in West Bloomfield runs wellness classes like yoga that can help you stay fit regardless of ability level. Call (248) 325-3870 (Vita reception) for more information on classes, or register online.

Avoid all tobacco products

Smoking can increase your risk for many kinds of cancer. Our quit-tobacco programs are based on years of research and experience. They can provide the treatment needed to overcome physical, emotional, and social dependency on tobacco products, in either a group setting or a one-on-one phone consultation.

If you don't have insurance, or your insurance won't cover our tobacco cessation programs, the Michigan Tobacco Quitline provides proactive telephone-based counseling and, in some cases, nicotine patches.

Cigarettes are not the only type of tobacco that can cause cancer. Read more about how tobacco alternatives can increase your risk for cancer.

Protect your skin

Due to our long winters, Michigan residents need to be cautious about two specific risk factors for skin cancer -- low vitamin D levels and increased tanning bed use. Avoid using tanning beds, and talk to your doctor or dermatologist about how to avoid low vitamin D levels. When outside during more pleasant Michigan seasons, practice sun safety:

  • Wear a hat. Skip the baseball cap and choose a hat with a 2- to 3-inch brim all the way around. Or select a shade cap with long fabric flaps.
  • Choose and use sunscreens wisely. Select an SPF (sun protection factor) of at least 15. Try cream formulas for the face, and gels for hairy necks and exposed scalps, including bald spots and parts in your hair. Apply to exposed areas 20 to 30 minutes before going outdoors and again every two hours.
  • Take cover. Avoid being outside too long between 10 a.m. and 4 p.m., when UV rays are strongest

Ask your primary care physician to perform a skin cancer check at all your regular check-ups. The American Academy of Dermatology has some great resources about protecting your skin from the sun and identifying skin cancer.

Prevent HPV

Contracting the Human Papilloma Virus (HPV), a sexually transmitted disease, can increase your risk of having cervical cancer in the future.

Girls and young women can reduce future risk of cervical cancer by getting vaccinated against HPV and delaying the first time they have sex. Talk to your daughter’s pediatrician about the HPV vaccine.

Protect Your Skin

Read more about the do’s and don’ts of sun protection on our Henry Ford LiveWell blog.

Learn More

HPV and Throat Cancer

Read more on our Henry Ford LiveWell blog about the link between HPV and throat cancer.

Learn More

Cancer-related checkups

Everyone, no matter their age, should have regular checkups to identify risk factors and problems before they become serious. These exams should include health counseling and, depending on a person’s age and gender, exams for cancers of the:

Cancer genetics

Most cancer cases occur by chance -- without any identified risk factors. However, some types of cancer may have a genetic base. Genetic testing can help us identify if a person is at increased risk for some cancers.

Knowing that you’re at increased risk can help you and your loved ones make more informed screening and healthcare decisions. If you’re concerned about your personal or family risk of cancer, we offer genetic evaluation, testing, and counseling.

Cancer screening tests

Many cancers can be treated successfully, or at least kept in check, if caught early enough. Screenings represent the best route to early detection. Recommended screenings depend on your age, gender, and risk factors.

  • Breast exams

    All women age 20 and older should get in the habit of performing regular breast self-exams.
    Unless there is a family history or additional personal risk for breast cancer, yearly mammograms should begin at age 40.

  • Cervical exams

    Women age 21-39 should get a Pap test every three years. A pap test and HPV (human papillomavirus) DNA test should be given every five years from age 30-65.

    Doctors may suggest more frequent screenings for women with certain risk factors, such as history of DES (diethylstilbestrol, a synthetic form of the female hormone estrogen) exposure, HIV infection, or a weak immune system.

    Women who have been vaccinated against HPV should still follow the cervical cancer screening recommendations for her age group.

  • Colon exams

    Starting at age 50, men and women should be checked for signs of colon cancer. Talk with your doctor about your personal and family history and what colon cancer screening schedule is best for you.

    Screenings may include:

    • Colonoscopy: Every 10 years
    • CT colonoscopy: Every five years
    • Double-contract barium enema: Every five years
    • Fecal occult blood test: Yearly
    • Flexible sigmoidoscopy: Every five years

    If any test besides the colonoscopy comes back positive, a colonoscopy should be performed.

  • Lung screening

    If you are a current or former smoker, you’re at risk for lung cancer. We offer low-dose CT (computed tomography) of the chest to screen for the disease.

    To be eligible for lung cancer screening, you must:

    • Be 55-77
    • Currently smoke, or have quit in the last 15 years
    • Have smoked at least a pack a day for 30 years or more, or the equivalent (for example, you might have smoked two packs a day for 15 years)
  • Prostate screening

    Men 50 and older should receive a prostate specific antigen (PSA) and digital rectal exam every year. High-risk men should begin testing as early as age 40. Talk with your doctor about your history and what prostate cancer screening schedule is best for you.

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