Did you know that February 4 is World Cancer Day? To mark this event, we’ll examine the most common cancers among Canadians 50+.
Cancer is the leading cause of death in Canada. As we get older, we have a higher risk of contracting the disease: 87% of all new cancers occur among people 50+. We take a look at the cancers most likely to affect retirees, how to detect them and ways to prevent them.
Breast cancer – who’s at risk?
Breast cancer is the most common cancer among women and is usually diagnosed between the ages of 50-69. Women over 50 are advised to have a mammogram every two years and your doctor may also carry out a breast exam for signs of cancer. Those most at risk include people with a strong family history of breast cancer. Doctors usually advise at-risk patients to have a mammogram more frequently as well as an ultrasound or MRI.
Ways to reduce the chances of getting breast cancer
Be healthy: Drinking less alcohol, losing any extra weight, eating a well-balanced diet and being active can all help reduce the risks. Research also shows that giving birth and breastfeeding can protect you from breast cancer.
Prostate cancer: the most common cancer in men
Age is a major trigger for the most common cancer among men. Did you know you are five times more likely to contract prostate cancer at age 65 than at 50?
There are some potential warning signs you can look out for. However, these symptoms are rarely experienced in the early stages of the cancer, so men over 50 should discuss prostate cancer checks with their doctor.
The digital rectal examination is the most common way to check, and is often accompanied by the prostate-specific antigen test (PSA). Men of African descent or with a family history of the disease are most at risk and are tested sooner and more frequently.
Eat healthier and be more active
Eating low-fat foods can help reduce your chances of contracting prostate cancer. Cutting back on red and processed meat and dairy products can also help. It’s also recommended to eat healthier and exercise more to reduce your body weight. Avoid exposure to pesticides and cadmium, as these have been linked to prostate cancer.
Lung cancer doesn’t just affect smokers
More people die from lung cancer than prostate, breast and colorectal cancers combined. While lung cancer is heavily linked to smoking, 15% of lung cancer patients have never smoked. There are also several environmental causes of lung cancer, including radon, asbestos, air pollution and radiation exposure.
Low-dose CT-scans can discover lung cancer before any symptoms are shown. The Canadian Task Force on Preventive Health Care recommends screening every three years for smokers and former smokers aged 50+.
Preventing lung cancer
Quit smoking, as soon as possible. Five years after quitting, long-term smokers reduce their chances of getting lung cancer by up to 60%. Exposure to radon is the leading cause of lung cancer among non-smokers. An approved radon test kit will reveal if your home contains dangerous levels of the gas and a radon mitigation professional can make your home safe.
Avoid second-hand smoke, which can increase the risk of non-smokers getting lung cancer by as much as 30%. Eating more fruits and vegetables and being active can also reduce the risks.
Colorectal – the over-50 cancer
Also known as colon or bowel cancer, colorectal cancer is the fourth most prevalent cancer and is mostly found among Canadians over 50.
Those considered most at risk include people whose family members have had the disease and those with Lynch syndrome, inflammatory bowel disease or diabetes.
There are many symptoms of colorectal cancer, including diarrhea, constipation, blood in the stool, a bleeding rectum, bloating and vomiting, though these could be symptoms of other health issues.
Regular screening is the best way to catch the disease early and a fecal occult blood test is recommended every two years for people aged 50+. When caught early, 90% of people are cured.
Adopt a healthier lifestyle
Lifestyle changes can really help in lowering the risk of colorectal cancer. Reduce the amount of red and processed meat and increase your intake of fibre.
Being physically active, maintaining a healthy weight and reducing sitting time can also help, as can quitting smoking and reducing alcohol intake.
Help with financing a cancer journey
Surviving cancer can be a harrowing experience, mentally, physically and financially. Many cancer patients have to pay out a small fortune for treatment, drugs and retrofits to their home.
If you’re 55 or over and own your home, a reverse mortgage could help you to cash in some of the equity in your home, without having to make regular mortgage payments. It can help you to pay for whatever it takes to beat the disease, or help you get your life back on track after it.
Contact us at 1-866-522-2447 to speak with a Reverse Mortgage Specialist to learn more about your options.