Get Empowered to Take Steps to Prevent Cancer or Find it Early
It can be empowering to know that there are certain cancers that can be prevented by making the right choices. We encourage you to be proactive in your health and make shared decisions with your healthcare team. For example, if your doctor recommends that you get screened for colorectal cancer, talk with them about the different types of screening tests available and which one is right for you. While they are experts in the risks and benefits of each type of cancer screening, you are the expert when it comes to your preferences and values. Here are some steps you can take to help prevent certain cancers:
Schedule your Recommended Cancer Screening Tests
A screening is a test that checks your body for cancer before you have symptoms. This testing can help find cancer early when it may be easier to treat or cure. Getting screening tests regularly may find breast, cervical, and colorectal (colon) cancers early, when treatment is likely to work best. Lung cancer screening is recommended for some people who are at high risk.
See our Cancer Screening Guide in English and Spanish for more information.
Get the Vaccines that are Proven to Lower your Risk for Certain Types of Cancer
- The Human Papillomavirus (HPV) vaccine:
- The HPV vaccine helps prevent most cervical cancers and several other kinds of cancer caused by the human papillomavirus (HPV), a very common sexually transmitted infection. The HPV vaccine protects against the types of HPV that most often cause these cancers
- HPV vaccination prevents new HPV infections, but does not treat existing infections or diseases. This is why the HPV vaccine works best when given before any exposure to HPV. The HPV vaccine does not substitute for routine cervical cancer screening tests (Pap and HPV tests), according to recommended screening guidelines.
- When and who should get vaccinated:
- HPV vaccination is recommended for preteens aged 11 to 12 years, but can be given starting at age 9.
- HPV vaccine also is recommended for everyone through age 26 years, if they are not vaccinated already.
- HPV vaccination is not recommended for everyone older than age 26 years. However, some adults age 27 through 45 years who are not already vaccinated may decide to get the HPV vaccine after speaking with their doctor about their risk for new HPV infections and the possible benefits of vaccination. HPV vaccination in this age range provides less benefit, as more people have already been exposed to HPV.
- Hepatitis B Vaccine:
- Hepatis B is a liver disease caused by the Hepatitis B virus (HBV). It ranges in severity from a mild illness, lasting a few weeks (acute), to a serious long-term (chronic) illness that can lead to liver disease or liver cancer.
- When and who should get screened:
- The hepatitis B vaccine is available for all age groups to prevent HBV infection. Talk with your provider.
Make Healthy Choices
You can reduce your risk of getting cancer by making healthy choices:
- Maintain a healthy weight:
- Being overweight or having obesity are linked with a higher risk of getting 13 types of cancer. These cancers make up 40% of all cancers diagnosed in the United States each year.
- Avoid tobacco and secondhand smoke:
- Lung cancer is the leading cause of cancer death, and cigarette smoking is the number one risk factor for lung cancer. In the United States, cigarette smoking is linked to about 80% to 90% of lung cancer deaths. Tobacco use can cause cancer almost anywhere in your body.
- Visit smokefree.gov to learn how you can quit smoking.
- Smoke from other people’s cigarettes, pipes, or cigars (secondhand smoke) also causes lung cancer. When a person breathes in secondhand smoke, it is like he or she is smoking
- Limit the amount of alcohol you drink:
- Drinking alcohol raises your risk of getting six kinds of cancer. The less alcohol you drink, the lower your risk for cancer.
- Protect your skin from the sun:
- Skin cancer is the most common kind of cancer in the United States. Exposure to ultraviolet (UV) rays from the sun and tanning beds appears to be the most important environmental factor involved with developing skin cancer. To help prevent skin cancer while still having fun outdoors, protect yourself by staying in the shade, applying sunscreen, and wearing sun-protective clothing, a hat, and sunglasses
- Get tested for Hepatitis C:
- Hepatitis is inflammation of the liver, which is most often caused by a virus. In the United States, the most common type of viral hepatitis is Hepatitis C. Over time, chronic Hepatitis C can lead to serious liver problems including liver damage, cirrhosis, liver failure, or liver cancer. CDC recommends that most adults get tested for Hepatitis C.
Preventing Cancer Along Your Lifetime
CDC scientists and other experts explored additional ways to lower your cancer risk at different ages. For more information, explore these lifetime stages: early childhood, adolescence, early adulthood, midlife, and older adulthood.