Worker Wellness Information Bulletin - Cancer

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Province of BC
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Worker Wellness
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Worker Wellness  Bulletin - "Cancer"

Cancer takes many different forms but generally as soon as you hear cancer you think you are going to die. The truth is that cancer when caught early is highly treatable. There are also many things that you can do to help prevent cancer or increase your chance of beating cancer. For every body system there is a type of cancer; lung, immune system, prostate, skin etc. There are two types of growth that are tumors, either malignant or benign. Tumors can become cancer but with benign tumors the risk significantly reduced.

Malignant tumors
-Grow quickly
-Spread to other tissues and organs
-Typically more difficult to treat
Benign tumors
-Grow slowly (some grow so slowly that no treatment is needed)
-Typically benign growths are removed because they could become cancerous
-Do not spread to other tissues or organs
-Some do not require any treatment


Types of cancer

Skin cancer
- Skin cancer is the most common cancer (40% of cases are skin cancer), if you live long enough everyone develops skin cancer and it is on the rise
- Most cases are easy to find and treatment is simple
- If you have a mole or spot that is not round, growing, different colours or changing colours you should get it looked at
Risk factors
o Large amounts of exposure to the sun
o Having a fair complexion, burning easily
o Exposure to coal tar, pitch, creosote, arsenic compounds and radium through work
o Family history of skin cancer
Preventative measures
o Check yourself regularly for spots or moles that are changing, it is a good idea to get someone to help you with your back
o Wearing sunscreen and covering up when outside
o Going to the doctor with moles or spots that are changing
Colon Cancer
- Colon cancer is a common cancer in both men and women
- Second most common cause of a cancer death
Risk factors
o Family history of colon cancer or polyps (most colon cancers develop from polyps)
o Diet high in fat, low in fiber and low in calcium
Preventative measures
o Everyone should get checked for colon cancer after the age of 50, younger if you have a family history
o Eating a diet with large amounts of fiber, vegetables, fruit and calcium
o Removing polyps if they are found, polyps slowly over time can become cancer
Lung Cancer
- Lung cancer is not a common cancer making up 13% of all new cases in the US
- Lung cancer is the deadliest type of cancer
Risk factors
o Smoking, breathing in second hand smoke
o Living in areas with high levels of air pollution
o Breathing diesel fumes or exhaust also increases risks
o Family history
Preventative measures
o Quitting smoking regardless of age or number of years you have been a smoker reduces your risk
o Getting coughs that don’t go away checked
o Eating healthy
Prostate Cancer
- Most common cancer in men
- Low rates of causing death, but is the number one cause of cancer deaths in men because it is so common
Risk factors
o Family history
o Diet high in saturated fat
o Possible links with steroid use and vasectomies
Preventative measure
o Screening for prostate cancer when over the age of 50, younger if there a family history
o Screening such include both and exam and a Prostate-specific antigen (PSA) test
o Eating a diet low in saturated fats
Breast Cancer
- Most common cancer in women
- High rates of death occur due to high rates of breast cancer
- 1% of cases occur in men, often caught later and therefore poorer treatment outcomes
Risk factors
o Family history
o Diet appears to have a role but not certain results yet
Preventative measures
o Getting regular mammograms
o Having children reduces risk
o Physical activity
General risk factors, these increase the rates of many cancers
- Obesity
- Poor diet
- Family history
- Sedentary lifestyle
Causes of cancer
- Causes can be environmental, genetic or both
- Genetic indicates a family history
- Environmental are factors outside the person that increase cancer risk such as smoking
o Environmental factors like eating healthy can decrease your risk of cancer
- Most cancers have both genetic and environmental parts to them
Stages of cancer
- Stage 0, the cancer cells are in the original area where the cancer started
- Stage I, the cancer cells move to other cells in the same organ
- Stage II, the cancer cells can cause blood vessels to grow
o (needed for the cancer to grow)
o In some types of cancer close lymph nodes may be included
- Stage III, lymph nodes are involved
o The cancer is now more difficult to treat
- Stage IV, the cancer has spread to other organs (this is called metastasis)
Cancer is easier to treat cancer in the earlier stages. Regular checkups; especially if there is a history of certain cancers in your family, is a good preventative measure.
Eating a well balanced diet is also important. Many fruits and vegetables contain antioxidants which help to reduce the risk of cancer. Antioxidants bind to free radicals. Free radicals can damage cells and these cells can become cancer cells that will ignore cell boundaries.


For more information on this submitted alert: 


Canadian Cancer Society



File attachments
Worker Wellness Bulletin - Cancer.pdf
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