Local doctors speak out on World Cancer Day to help you lower your risk



Posted on February 4, 2014 at 7:12 PM

Updated Wednesday, Feb 5 at 11:44 AM

Meg Farris / Eyewitness News
Email: mfarris@wwltv.com | Twitter: @megfarriswwl

NEW ORLEANS - In Louisiana, there is still a higher rate of certain cancers despite progress in some areas.

So local doctors are spoke out on World Cancer Day, to help you lower your risk and know which steps you can take.

Doctors say we can change our cancer risk and by doing that we change our futures.

"The bad news is we are at the top for deaths from cancer in the United States. We are generally number three or number four in deaths from cancer. But the good news is that cancers, many cancers are preventable or can be detected early and cured," explained Dr. Donna Williams, an assistant professor of  behavioral and community health sciences at the LSU School of Public Health at LSUHSC. She is also the Director of the Louisiana Cancer Prevention and Control Program.

The number one addiction, nicotine, leads to several deadly cancers. So getting help through a smoking cessation program is key. Sunbathing and not getting regular skin screens also can lead to cancers. Alcohol use also ups your risk as well as obesity and not exercising. A diet high in fruits and vegetables and low in red meat and cured meat will help lower your risk.  

We now know too, viruses can cause cancers, so getting vaccines can help prevent cancers. Vaccines for hepatitis can help prevent liver cancer and vaccines for HPV can help prevent cancer of the cervix. 

"We have the capacity to potentially wipe out cervical and liver cancer in the world if people took advantage of the vaccines. And for those who are beyond the age of which they should have them, that they're doing early detection, but we could actually follow on the path of polio, and just get rid of it in the world. Imagine having two cancers which no longer exist and are major killers," said Dr. Edward Trapido, the assistant Dean of Research at the LSU School of Public Health at LSUHSC.  

"No one should get cervical cancer, much less die from it," stated Dr. Williams. 

The HPV vaccine is for girls and boys and can not only prevent cervical cancer but also some oral, anal and genital cancers. Getting regular pap smears and mammograms mean higher survival rates too.  Louisiana used to be the very last for women getting mammograms but now more get the annual screening do so fewer women are dying from breast cancer.

There is a program at the LSU School of Public Health to help low income, uninsured women get services such as screenings and treatment for breast and cervical cancers.

The doctors say more people also need regular colon screenings. 

"Colorectal cancer is a major killer of people in Louisiana and colorectal cancer can be prevented by having colorectal cancer screening which can detect polyps, that will eventually develop into cancer, and those can be removed," explained Dr. Williams. 

Public health doctors at LSUHSC are also following thousands of people exposed to the BP oil spill a few years ago, to see if chemicals, and even the stress caused by the spill, leads to more cancer. 

To reach the cancer screening and treatment program for low income women call: 1-888-599-1073, or go to http://publichealth.lsuhsc.edu/lbchp.html