Cancer Checking and Prevention

In Hong Kong, cancers and cardiovascular diseases are the leading causes of death in Hong Kong. Other leading causes of death include lung cancer, colorectal cancer, liver cancer, stomach cancer, breast cancer, nasopharyngeal cancer, pancreatic cancer, esophageal cancer, non-Hodgkin's lymphoma, and leukemia. Ovarian cancer, cervical cancer and prostate cancer are also high-ranking killers. To find out ways to prevent cancer, we need to understand how cancers evolve. Although most of the causes of cancers are largely unknown, medical experts managed to conclude the existence of correlation between the prevalence of cancers and an unhealthy lifestyle. Unhealthy lifestyle practices and exposure to pollutants can lead to cancers. Notable examples are lung cancer (caused by smoking and asbestos exposure) and skin cancer (caused by excessive sun exposure). On the other hand, some cancers can be inherited, such as breast cancer, nasopharyngeal cancer and colorectal cancer etc.


The correlation between viral infections and cancers was also identified, for example, Hepatitis B/C and liver cancer, HPV and cervical cancer as well as EBV and nasopharyngeal cancer. This correlation led to the discovery of various types vaccinations against cancers, such as Hepatitis B vaccination against liver cancer. The fatal rate of the liver cancer was decreased due to the fact that Hepatitis B carriers are now able to detect liver cancer in early stage through blood test and ultrasound liver scan. The recent breakthrough of HPV vaccination had reduced the numbers of cervical cancer by 75%. Better understanding of the correlation between EBV and nasopharyngeal cancer allowed medical experts to create non-intrusive screening for early detection and treatment.


To prevent cancers, we should undertake a non-smoking health lifestyle practices including low-fat and high-fiber balanced diet, moderate amount of exercise each day, avoiding direct exposure to sun and wearing sun block and suitable clothes to protect your skin. Regular tests on stool occult blood allow us to screen colorectal cancer while regular blood tests (EBV DNA) are effective for the detection of nasopharyngeal cancer. We recommend Hepatitis B carriers to undergo regular blood tests and ultrasound scan for cancer screening. Women who are sexually active should undergo cervical smear on regular basis.


Getting to know your body, being aware of any abnormal changes and consulting a doctor immediately once any symptoms occurred are all the most important.


Source: Department of Health 2010

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