Monday, October 14, 2019

Once you hit 80, odds say you'll live past 90

Risk factors for another cancer jump up if you've already had one kind — or if one of your kin has

Is it possible to live cancer-free?

The answer is a resounding yes, at least according to a recent non-bylined article in the AARP Magazine, whose subhead reads in part, "Age is a risk factor for cancer, but the chances of developing a fatal cancer may actually begin to decline at age 70."

It also contends that "once you hit 80, our chance of living to 90 and beyond goes way up."

The article isn't totally positive, however.

It says, for instance, that "women who have had breast cancer are more at risk for another type of breast cancer, and other cancers."

And it notes that "a Stanford University study showed that people diagnosed with six or more basal cell carcinomas have more than three times the odds for developing future cancers, such as breast, colon and prostate cancer as well as leukemia and lymphoma — likely due to an underlying  problem in genes that repair DNA."

In short, having one kind of cancer makes a woman or man prone to other kinds. 

And if you smoked, it says, "you're at increased risk for not only lung cancer but also a dozen other cancers, including oral, cervical, bladder and pancreatic."

Your family medical history can also increase your risk.
Heather Hampel
The AARP piece quotes Heather Hampel, associate director of the Ohio State University Comprehensive Cancer Center, as saying that if you have a family history of cancer you should coordinate with a genetic counselor who can put your results in perspective and recommend an action plan.

"Women who carry the BRCA1 or BRCA2 gene, for example, have up to a 72% chance of developing breast cancer and 44% chance of ovarian cancer by age 80," the article states.

But, even though in the general population women have only about a 12% lifetime risk of breast cancer, and "though those statistics sound scary, genetic testing can help doctors guide you on the best ways to prevent cancers, or diagnose this earlier, when they are treatable," the AARP mag further   quotes Hampel.

More information about risks can be found in "Rollercoaster: How a man can survive his partner's breast cancer," a VitalityPress book that I, Woody Weingarten, aimed at caregivers.

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