UPDATED: Monday, February 17, 2014 - 10:40pm
Waco, Texas — Did you know two thirds of cancer deaths, doctors say, are attributed to unhealthy lifestyles and smoking, both of which are completely preventable?
It's National Cancer Prevention Month, and doctors want you to be aware of ways you can prevent cancer. Believe it or not, regular cancer screenings are important.
"It's a difference between living or not living," said Dr. Carlos Encarmacion, Medical Oncologist for Texas Oncology Clinic.
Cancer is a disease that affects everyone, regardless of age, race, or economic backgrounds.
"It can happen to anybody. And, if it happens to you, it's going to affect your family too because they're going to have to worry. They're going to have to deal with economic issues. So, it's a lot of people affected by just one diagnosis," said Encarmacion.
Many times, doctors say people are worried about the cost of screening or what doctors might find. But, if you wait until you show symptoms like lumps, pain, or abnormal bleeding, you could be facing an advanced form of cancer.
"I would rather have a cancer earlier and treat it easier than to have to go through a more intense and expensive therapy," said Encarmacion.
There's no set age on when you should have your screenings done because every person is different depending on your age and risk factors.
"Your physician should be the one that would determine how often you need screenings and what type of screenings you're going to need," said Encarmacion.
Early screenings, doctors say, are helping slow down the rates of some common cancers.
"Breast cancer has gone down. Lung cancer is going down a little bit, at least in men. There are other cancers, like melanoma, where the rates seem to be going up. So, it just varies," said Encarmacion.
Proper screening is just the start. Experts urge proper diet and exercise to also decrease your risk for cancer.