Healthy seniors: Cancer screening and trends as we age

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COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. (KRDO) — Cancer screenings are important for everyone, but they become critical as we age. And there are some things seniors can do to stay a step ahead of their health.

“Cancers seem to have an age-related risk factor, in fact the number one risk of developing cancer is getting older,” says Dr Richard Miller, who works in cardiothoracic surgery at Penrose Hospital.

According to new cancer research, half of cancer diagnoses are in people over the age of 70. One of the main reasons your risk increases with age is because people are living longer.

“The most common age group for a cancer diagnosis is the 60s to 70s,” says Dr. Miller. “A lot of it has to do with cumulative exposure and cell damage over time that doesn’t seem to get caught and lead to cancer.”

Dr. Miller says specific cancers differ depending on your age.

“In the over-50 age group, the most common cancers are lung cancer, breast cancer in women, colorectal cancer is thought to be another common cancer, and prostate cancer,” says Dr. Miller.

According to Dr. Miller, a healthy lifestyle can reduce your risk of cancer diagnosis later in life.

“Limit your alcohol intake, make sure you’re on a whole-food diet as much as possible,” says Dr. Miller. “Try to heavily limit processed foods and manufactured or manipulated foods and if you can follow these general trends, you’ll probably be doing yourself a huge favor.”

As with other health data, Colorado compares quite well when it comes to cancer trends. Dr. Miller says we have fewer smokers than many other states, which may be one of the main causes of cancer. He wants to remind people to get and maintain cancer screenings because, if caught early, most are treatable.

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