Mitchell Gaynor, founder and president of Gaynor Integrative Oncology and author, explains how you can recognize the major signs of cancer.
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The Major Warning Signs for Cancer Well there are a number of warning signs that we tell people to look for and it really brings up the distinction, one for breast cancer, self exam is very important, so women should do breast self exam regularly at least once a month and preferably after a shower or during a shower is the best time. They should learn proper self exam from a certified nurse who knows how to do it or from their physician or gynecologist. So that’s a way of picking up cancer early, routine mammography after age 40 it’s very important. Sometimes we’ll do it one mammogram between 35 and 40, you know, to know about what your risks are, for instance, do you have a strong family history of colorectal cancer or breast cancer, should you be genetically tested for a mutation like BRCA1 or BRCA2, which is, you know, mutation that can give you a 50 to 80% lifetime risk of breast cancer or ovarian cancer. You know, if you’ve had a family history of colon cancer, then you wanna be screened earlier and talk to your doctor about maybe even being screened before age 50, if it was a younger first degree relative. So there are a lot of very, very important things to note but, you know, one of the things that is very important for people is, you know, sometimes you’ll feel a lump, sometimes you’ll have a cough, you know, sometimes your voice may change, all those you go see the doctor. But it’s even more important because screening is not the same as prevention, okay. Screening is finding a cancer early, but you still already have the cancer so it’s important but it’s not sufficient. It’s really important to, you know, know what your risks are and to really have a very, very balanced diet, important to really look at what nutrients get the knowledge are gonna be best for you and it’s also important for people to consider, you know, if you’re a particularly higher risk, your doctor may wanna order breast MRIs, breast MRIs can be useful in selected patients, there’s a lot of false positives with those, so they result in a lot of breast biopsies that end up turning out to be negative. As do mammograms, so mammograms can miss some breast cancers, you just don’t see them and sometimes those will be picked up on sonography or MRI, really depends on the risk. So every woman has to make that decision in conjunction with her doctor based on her history and it’s also very important to be seeing your doctor regularly because your doctor may pick up things from the blood tests that you may not notice. So clearly if your weight changes, if you’re having pain, if you feel a mess, your voice changes, you need to go see your doctor. People need to, you know, be aware of things like melanoma, you know, it’s a skin cancer that has increased dramatically over the last 30 years in the incidence. Probably from a lot of the environmental degradation we’re having that’s letting more UV rays hit the earth and ultra violet rays are the leading risk factor for melanoma. So getting your skin checked by a dermatologist at least once a year is very important. The other thing I think it’s critically important for people to know and this gets to a big part of prevention is there’s no difference between your internal environment inside your body and your external environment that we call the world. So all the toxins that are out there are gonna end up in here and so that’s why you wanna be very, very careful in every aspect of your life to minimize the toxins that you’re putting in your body. Hence try and do as much organic as you can, there’s been a lot in the press recently about Bisphenol A or BPA in the hard plastic water bottles and everything and, you know, BPA acts like a weak estrogen in the body, we’ve talked over the course of this interview about how estrogen promotes cancer. So there’s all these chemicals that are weak estrogens, you wanna have as few of those in your body as you possibly can. So the BPA has been used in some dental sealants and so