Can Cancer Be Prevented?

All cancers caused by cigarette smoking and heavy use of alcohol could be prevented completely. The American Cancer Society  estimates that in 2008 about 170,000 cancer deaths are expected to be caused by tobacco use.

Scientific evidence suggests that about one-third of the 565,650 cancer deaths expected to occur in 2008 will be related to overweight or obesity, physical inactivity, and nutrition and thus could also be prevented. Certain cancers are related to infectious agents, such as hepatitis B virus (HBV), human papillomavirus (HPV), human immunodeficiency virus (HIV), Helicobacter pylori (H.pylori), and others, and could be prevented through behavioral changes, vaccines, or antibiotics.

In addition, many of the more than 1 million skin cancers that are expected to be diagnosed in 2008 could have been prevented by protection from the sun's rays and avoiding indoor tanning.

Regular screening examinations by a health care professional can result in the detection and removal of precancerous growths, as well as the diagnosis of cancers at an early stage when they are most treatable. Cancers that can be prevented or detected earlier by screening account for at least half of all new cancer cases. The 5-year relative survival rate for these cancers is about 85%, a reflection of real reductions in mortality and earlier diagnosis because of screening.