Secretary of Health Dr. Rachel Levine encouraged residents to be active in their health and take steps to decrease their risk of cancer, the second leading cause of death in Pennsylvania.
“There are more than 100 different types of cancer that can impact individuals of all ages across the state,” Levine said. “In 2017, the most recent data available, more than 78,000 Pennsylvanians were newly diagnosed with an invasive cancer, and tragically more than 28,000 people died from this disease. This is why it is so important that we continue to work on a comprehensive cancer control plan to decrease the number of cancer cases and eliminate the burden of cancer for all residents.”
To decrease the chances of developing cancer, it is recommended that everyone get regular screenings and check-ups, stay up-to-date on all vaccines, and continuously make healthy choices.
Regular screenings, said Levine, are essential to detecting cancer early. Screenings check the body for signs of cancer before symptoms show up. Tests can detect certain types of cancers early, such as breast, cervical and colorectal, where treatment is likely to work best.
All Pennsylvanians should talk with their doctor about when and how often they should be screened and for what types of cancer. Men should talk to their doctor about maintaining good prostate health and whether screening is necessary. Depending on personal health history, family health history or screening results, a doctor may recommend a different screening schedule.
Being up-to-date on vaccines is another step all residents can take to keep themselves healthy. Some vaccines protect against specific types of cancer. The Human Papillomavirus (HPV) vaccine protects against the HPV types that most often cause cervical, vaginal, vulvar, anal and oral cancers. This vaccine is recommended for both males and females 9 to 26 years old.
According to Levine, making healthy choices every day not only improves an individual’s overall quality of life, but also decreases the chances of developing cancer. Adopting healthier habits like not using tobacco, improving nutrition, keeping a healthy weight, increasing physical activity and avoiding excessive sun exposure can significantly reduce a person’s risk for cancer.
The Department of Health’s goals and strategies for reducing cancer incidence and mortality can be found in the 2019-2023 Pennsylvania Cancer Control Plan developed by organizations and individuals from across Pennsylvania as a roadmap for cancer control.
The Cancer Statistics Dashboard is an interactive tool for exploring different aspects of cancer among Pennsylvanians. The dashboard begins with a high-level overview of cancer statistics and allows readers to view the details by primary site, age, race, sex, county and other factors. In addition to the dashboard, the department’s Burden of Cancer in Pennsylvania report is available on the website and outlines cancer data and statistics among residents across the state.
Visit health.pa.gov for more information.