As our population grows and we live longer, cancer continues to be a burden on our community.

In 2012, the State Cancer Registry reported that 6689 men and 5250 women were diagnosed with cancer in WA.

Rates in men are lower than two years ago, while those for women are about the same.

Breast cancer is the most common cancer for women (31 per cent) and prostate for men (31 per cent).  Colorectal cancer is the most common cancer affecting both men (10 per cent) and women (11 per cent).  Lung cancer cases and deaths were falling in men, but rates in women were still increasing.

Paul Katris, Executive Officer of the Western Australian Clinical Oncology Group, says the most effective way to reduce your risk of cancer is by modifying your lifestyle.

“Cancer is a complex series of diseases that requires continued research effort through clinical trials to find improved treatments and in turn, the hope of survival improvements and possible cures,” says Mr Katris.

Mr Katris recommends maintaining a healthy lifestyle and avoiding the factors that increase your risk of developing certain types of cancers:
Don’t smoke

Tobacco smoking is the leading preventable cause of cancer burden in Australia, attributable for an estimated 11,308 new cases of cancer and 8,155 cancer deaths in 2005. Approximately 80 per cent of all lung cancers are due to smoking tobacco.

Keep your weight down and be active

Evidence suggests that maintaining a healthy weight throughout life is one of the most important ways to protect against many types of cancer. It is estimated that around one quarter of all cancers could be prevented through appropriate food, nutrition and physical activity.

Protect yourself from the sun

There is irrefutable evidence of excessive sun exposure causing several skin cancers including melanoma. Use sunscreen and wear clothes that protect you from its harmful rays.

Avoid alcohol or reduce your alcohol intake

The International Agency for Cancer Research classifies alcohol as a Group 1 carcinogen; a known cause of cancer in humans. Cancer Council Australia estimates that anywhere between 2,182 and 6,620 new cases of cancer in Australia (or 1.9–5.8 per cent of all cancers) in 2009 were attributable to long-term, chronic use of alcohol.  Cancer was one of the top five causes of alcohol-attributable deaths in Australia in 2005.

Reduce your exposure to harmful chemicals

Employees in a significant number of workplaces are exposed to a diversity of chemical compounds and other agents at higher concentrations and for longer periods than people in other environments.

There is a growing evidence linking such work-based exposures to a number of cancers, most prevalent among them, skin, lung and bladder cancer.  Recent research also links laryngeal and sinonasal cancers with occupation.

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