Get Your Life with Dr. Jillian Morgan

by Terry Watson | March 13th, 2014
Dr. Jillian Morgan

Dr. Jillian Morgan

February 4th marked World Cancer Day; a day of observance that has been only been in existence since 2008. It was established in an effort to raise worldwide cancer awareness and promote its prevention, detection and cure. As part of this year’s recognition in the United States, the lights of the Empire State Building were lit in blue and orange, the colors of the World Cancer Day organization.

Cancer is a disease that in some way has touched each of us, either personally or through someone we know. Cancer is a leading cause of death worldwide, accounting for 8.2 million deaths in 2012 alone, according to the International Agency on Research for Cancer. The American Cancer Society (ACS) reports that there are approximately 13 million people in the US currently living with cancer. These statistics are staggering!

What is even more alarming is that, like many other diseases, cancer disproportionately affects the African American community. We are diagnosed at lower rates, mainly because we don’t go to the doctor regularly, but our death rates are higher, primarily because we are diagnosed at later stages of the disease compared to other ethnic groups. African Americans are more likely to develop and die from cancer than any other racial or ethnic group. As a community we must work to improve our cancer awareness and prevention.

Did you know that cancer kills more people than HIV/AIDS, malaria and TB combined?
The three most commonly diagnosed cancers in African Americans and the population as a whole are breast cancer, prostate cancer and lung cancer. Breast cancer is the most common cancer in women, second only to skin cancer. Shockingly, one out of every eight women in the U.S. will develop breast cancer in her lifetime. This year, it is estimated that about 232,670 new breast cancer cases will be diagnosed and approximately 40, 000 women will die from the disease. Because of these alarming statistics it is imperative that woman perform breast self-exams and that women over the age of 40 go in to have a mammogram every year. These simple measures can help to detect the disease early and allow for more effective treatment options.

Most women are all too familiar with the breast self-exam process and the need to perform one monthly; however, many women simply forget to do their monthly self-exams. Now there’s a new app to help women remember to conduct their breast self-exams. The organization Rethink Breast Cancer has developed an app for your mobile devices that will send you reminders from fine men and handsome doctors, whatever your preference. The app allows you to choose from an array of good-looking men and each notification will feature that gentleman reminding you of the TLCs of self-examination- Touch-Look- Check. This app also has features that enable you to locate doctors and take notes on any changes you find during your self-exam. This is a cool and flirty app that can actually help save your life. Look for the Your Man Reminder App in the App Store and the Android Market.

Breast cancer is not just a woman’s disease. While it is not as common in men, an estimated 2,240 men will be diagnosed with breast cancer this year, and approximately 410 will die of this disease. Of note, Richard Roundtree was bad…when he starred as John Shaft in the 1971 film “Shaft” but not bad enough to dodge the cancer bullet. Roundtree, currently one of the stars in the TV show Being Mary Jane, was diagnosed with breast cancer in 1993. The actor was treated for the disease and is now cancer free.
While breast cancer is the common cancer for women, outside of skin cancer, prostate cancer is the most common cancer among men. About one man out of seven will be diagnosed with prostate cancer during his life. The American Cancer Society predicts that about 233,000 new cases of prostate cancer will be diagnosed this year.

Prostate cancer when detected early can often be treated successfully. More than 2 million men in the US are prostate cancer survivors. One of those survivors is R&B singer Charlie Wilson. Uncle Charlie, as he’s affectionately known, was diagnosed with prostate cancer in 2008. At the urging of his wife, Wilson went in for a checkup. After a few months of treatment, Wilson was declared cancer free. Wilson has been quoted as saying “A lot of men are ashamed to get the exam. It would be senseless to die of shame.” Starting at the age of 50 men should talk to their doctor about the pros and cons of prostate cancer testing. African American men or men who have a father or brother with prostate cancer should begin talking with their doctor at age 45. Women, please encourage the men if your life to get screened. It can save their lives. And men, in the words of Charlie Wilson, “Man up and go get a checkup”.

The deadliest of all cancers is lung cancer. Lung is cancer is the second most common cancer among men and women in the US with approximately 228,190 individuals diagnosed in 2013, however it is by far the leading cause of cancer death with 159,480 deaths from the disease in 2013, more than any other cancer.

In 2010, many news sources reported the death of legendary hip hop artist, Guru, following complications from lung cancer. After battling lung cancer for over a year the rapper, born Keith Elam, one-half of the hip-hop group Gang Starr, died on April 19, 2010. He was only 48 years old.

While lung cancer is one of the most common cancers it is also one the most preventable because the number one risk factor for lung cancer according to the CDC is smoking. In the United States, cigarette smoking causes about 90% of lung cancers. On February 5th, just one day after World Cancer Day, CVS pharmacy announced that it will stop selling cigarettes and other tobacco products at its stores by October 1. This is in an effort to promote healthier living.
Did you know that more people die from lung cancer than colon, breast, and prostate cancers combined?

So, while some of these numbers are disheartening, there are many lifestyle changes that we can make to help lower our chances of
developing certain cancers. The most notable one is to stop the use of tobacco products. Put the cigarettes down and join a smoking cessation program. In addition, the ACS has developed nutrition and physical activity guidelines for the prevention of cancer. The guidelines stress the importance of maintaining a healthy body weight, getting at least 30 minutes of moderate exercise every day, eating a healthy diet with at least five servings of fruits and vegetables daily and limiting alcohol intake to no more than one drink a day for women or two for men, if you drink at all.

So as we start a new season, I encourage you to spring into healthier lifestyle habits and GET YOURx LIFE by getting regular check-ups, performing self-exams, exercising and throwing away the cigarettes!

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