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Cancer cases in the spotlight as White House declares April 2024 ‘Cancer Prevention and Early Detection Month’

The White House has declared April 2024 as Cancer Prevention and Early Detection Month.

In a proclamation issued on March 29, President Joe Biden acknowledged the “enormous progress” that has been made toward beating cancer in the U.S. while noting that it’s still the second-leading cause of death.

To help prevent cancer, he emphasized the importance of screenings for early detection and outlined programs to make them more accessible.

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“It is important for every American to know that cancer screenings are lifesaving — early detection can make all the difference in beating the disease,” Biden stated.

The president’s proclamation also discussed how adopting healthy lifestyle habits — “like maintaining a healthy body weight and reducing exposure to tobacco smoke” — can prevent certain types of cancers.

“It is important for every American to know that cancer screenings are lifesaving — early detection can make all the difference in beating the disease,” the president said in the announcement. (iStock)

“Studies have shown that over 30% of cancers diagnosed today could be prevented through methods like decreasing environmental and toxic exposures to carcinogens and making lifestyle changes like reducing tobacco use and improving nutrition,” Biden said.

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A third approach the president mentioned is reducing exposure to potentially cancer-causing toxins in the environment.

“I encourage citizens, government agencies, private businesses, nonprofit organizations and other interested groups to join in activities that will increase awareness of what Americans can do to prevent, detect and beat cancer,” Biden wrote.

“We are not just working toward incremental changes — we are looking for quantum leaps forward.”

‘It’s a big deal’

Fox News Digital spoke with Jody Hoyos, CEO of the Prevent Cancer Foundation in Alexandria, Virginia, about the significance of April being declared Cancer Prevention and Early Detection Month.

“It’s a big deal because it gives us the opportunity to share information with people about risk reduction for cancer, as well as cancer screenings,” she said. 

Man diagnosis

The Prevent Cancer Foundation’s annual early detection survey found that nearly seven out of every 10 adults in the U.S. are behind on at least one routine cancer screening.  (iStock)

“We know that early detection saves lives when people have their cancer prevented in its entirety, which is the best-case scenario.”

The next-best scenario, Hoyos said, is that people have their cancer detected early, so they get the best chance at treatment and recovery. 

Screenings fall short, survey finds

The Prevent Cancer Foundation’s annual early detection survey found that nearly seven out of every 10 adults in the U.S. are behind on at least one routine cancer screening. 

The main reason given for missed screenings is that people simply didn’t know they needed to be screened, Hoyos said.

“We are not just working toward incremental changes — we are looking for quantum leaps forward.”

“That means it’s really important to share information about the screenings people need,” she noted.

There are also different barriers across racial and ethnic groups, Hoyos added.

In the survey, Hispanic adults in the U.S. cited inability to afford the cost of screening as a top reason for skipping them. Black adults reported skepticism in the health care system as a top reason they were not being screened.

Lung cancer scan

“People need to understand the benefits of early detection in order to encourage them to schedule their appointments,” said the CEO of the Prevent Cancer Foundation. (iStock)

White adults cited the lack of symptoms as to why they were not being screened, Hoyos shared, while Asian adults reported concerns or fear about the cancer screening itself.

“Everyone has different needs and concerns when it comes to navigating a cancer screening,” Hoyos said.

“We want to make sure to provide as much information as we can to help people.”

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“People need to understand the benefits of early detection in order to encourage them to schedule their appointments.”

Family history is another element to consider, she said.

“If there is a family history of cancer, you want to know that so you can talk to your provider about when to start your screening and how often you should be screened,” Hoyos noted.

“Cancer is not just an issue for older people — it affects everyone.”

But if someone doesn’t have a family history, that doesn’t mean they don’t need screenings, she cautioned.

“Some people assume that if they don’t have a family history, they don’t need to worry about it — but most people who get a cancer diagnosis don’t have a family history,” Hoyos said. 

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“Only about 5% to 10% of cancers are hereditary.”

Screenings are particularly important as cancer diagnoses are happening at younger ages, the expert added. 

exercising

The proclamation also noted that adopting healthy lifestyle habits — “like maintaining a healthy body weight and reducing exposure to tobacco smoke” — can prevent certain types of cancers. (iStock)

In some cases, the disease appears well before people reach the recommended screening age.

“Cancer is not just an issue for older people — it affects everyone,” Hoyos emphasized.

“And so we want to make sure people know their bodies and advocate for their health when something is wrong — if you’re getting an answer that doesn’t feel right to you, you should seek a second opinion.”

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PreventCancer.org offers a checklist of the screening recommendations for different types of cancer at various ages.

For more Health articles, visit www.foxnews.com/health.

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