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APR 8th 2014

3 Cancer Awareness Months Recognized In April

APR 8th 2014
3 Cancer Awareness Months Recognized In April

Happy April, everyone! It’s finally spring. And, it’s busy … We’re recognizing 3 separate cancer awareness months all at once. How’s that for an April shower?

Here’s information about April’s cancer awareness months and ribbon colors, as well as some quick facts, statistics, risk factors and prevention tips to help you recognize these types of cancer.

1. Oral, Head and Neck Cancer Awareness Month

oral head and neck cancer awareness month

Cancer Ribbon Colors: Burgundy and White

Cancer Facts – Oral, head and neck cancers usually start in the following places:

  • Oral cavity (includes the lips, tongue and the inside of your mouth).
  • Pharynx (the hollow tube behind your nose that leads to your esophagus).
  • Larynx (voicebox).
  • Nasal cavity and paranasal sinuses (the hollow space inside your nose, and the hollow spaces in the bones that surround your nose).
  • Salivary glands (the glands near your jawbone that produce saliva).

Cancer Statistics:

  • According to the Oral Cancer Foundation, more than 43,000 people in the U.S. will be diagnosed with oral, head and neck cancer this year.
  • Each year, oral cancer kills more Americans than many other “higher profile” types of cancer, including cervical cancer, thyroid cancer and skin cancer (malignant melanoma).
  • About 115 Americans are diagnosed with oral, head and neck cancer every day.
  • Historically, people over 50 have been more likely to contract oral cancer (usually from smoking), but now a growing segment of younger non-smokers are being diagnosed – usually after exposure to the HPV virus as well.

Cancer Risk Factors:

  • Tobacco.
  • Alcohol.
  • Exposure to the human papillomavirus (HPV) infection.
  • Exposure to sunlight (especially on the lower lip).

Cancer Prevention Tips:

  • Stop smoking and using tobacco products – you can lower your oral cancer riskby up to 50%.
  • Don’t smoke marijuana.
  • Cut back on alcohol drinking.
  • Avoid the HPV infection and use condoms.
  • Eat fruits and vegetables.
  • Stay out of the sun, and use lip balm with sun protection.

2. Esophageal Cancer Awareness Month

esophageal cancer awareness month

Cancer Ribbon Color: Periwinkle

Cancer Facts:

  • Esophageal cancer forms in the muscular tube that connects your throat and your stomach.
  • There are two main types of esophageal cancer: squamous cell carcinoma (forms in the flat cells that line your esophagus) and adenocarcinoma (begins in mucus and fluid cells).

Cancer Statistics:

  • According to the American Cancer Society, more than 18,000 Americans will contract esophageal cancer, and over 15,000 people will die from the disease this year.
  • Esophageal cancer rateshave been slowly rising over the past few decades. Adenocarcinoma is now more common than squamous cell carcinoma.
  • Esophageal cancer is treatable, but usually not completely curable.

Cancer Risk Factors – Anything that may irritate your esophagus, including:

  • Alcohol.
  • Bile reflux.
  • Tobacco products.
  • Achalasia (difficulty swallowing).
  • Hot liquids.
  • Foods preserved in lye (lutefisk, some olive recipes).
  • Gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD).
  • Obesity.
  • Barrett’s esophagus.
  • Upper-body radiation treatment.

Cancer Prevention Tips:

  • Avoid alcohol and tobacco.
  • Eat fruits and vegetables.
  • Maintain a healthy weight.
  • Schedule regular doctor’s visits to check for Barrett’s esophagusor pre-cancerous conditions.

You can find out more about the causes of esophageal cancer and some helpful prevention tips here.

3. Testicular Cancer Awareness Month

testicular cancer awareness month

Cancer Ribbon Color: Orchid

Cancer Facts:

  • Testicular cancer can form in the tissues of one or both testicles.
  • The disease is most commonin younger or middle-aged men – though older men can get it, too.
  • Testicular cancer usually begins in germ cells (the cells that create sperm).

Cancer Statistics:

  • According to the American Cancer Society, over 8,800 men in the U.S. will be diagnosed with testicular cancer this year, and nearly 400 men will die of the disease.
  • About one in every 270 men gets testicular cancer.
  • Testicular cancer rates in the U.S. are slowly increasing.
  • The lifetime risk of dying from testicular cancer is about 1 in 5,000.

Cancer Risk Factors:

  • Being between ages 20 and 39.
  • Being white, especially of Scandinavian descent.
  • Having an undescended testicle (cryptorchidism).
  • Congenital abnormalities in the testicles, penis or kidneys.
  • Having an inguinal hernia (hernia in the groin).
  • Having a history or family history of testicular cancer.

Cancer Prevention Tips:

  • Get a routine testicle examas part of your yearly physical.
  • Perform a testicular self-exam every month.

To find out about other cancer awareness months recognized throughout the year and the supporting cancer ribbon colors, click here.

Talk to us in the comments! What are you doing to prevent cancer this month?

(Images via Cancer Services and Cancer Gifts.)