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InterCommunity Cancer Centers and Institute Celebrates “National Cancer Prevention Month” by Spotlighting Early Detection

THE FIRST LINE OF DEFENSE AGAINST CANCERWhen it comes to beating cancer, early detection may be the single most powerful weapon physicians have in their arsenal. With regular screenings, a physician can more rapidly detect and treat cancer at its earliest stages, giving patients the best opportunity to beat their disease. In celebrating National Cancer Prevention Month this February, InterCommunity Cancer Centers (ICCC) and Institute (ICCI) of Leesburg, Lady Lake and Clermont is highlighting the American Cancer Society’s most recent guidelines and screenings for a few of today’s most common forms of cancer.
According to the American Cancer Society (ACS), breast cancer is one of the most common cancers affecting women today. It is the second leading cause of cancer death in women, after lung cancer. In 2012, an estimated 226,870 new cases of invasive breast cancer were diagnosed among women and approximately 39,510 women were expected to die from breast cancer.
The good news is that the disease can be prevented or detected early by routine self- exams, yearly doctor visits and mammograms, magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) and incorporating healthy diet and lifestyle changes.
The ACS provides the following recommendations for early breast cancer detection in women:
• Yearly mammograms beginning at age 40 and
continuing for as long as a woman is in good health
• Clinical breast exams (CBE) about every three years for women in their 20s and 30s and every year for women 40 and over
• Women should know how their breasts normally look and feel and report any breast changes promptly to their health care provider.
• Women with a family history, genetic tendency, or certain other risk factors – should be screened with MRI in addition to mammograms.
“Breast cancer does not have to be a death sentence,” explains Maureen Holasek, M.D., radiation oncologist at ICCC/ICCI. “By following these guidelines and consulting your physician about what screenings are best for you, and how often you should receive them, you will be giving yourself the best chance of beating this disease.”
Each year, millions of women make their annual trip to the gynecologist for their Pap test. Life continues as usual once they receive a postcard that is checks off their results as “normal.” But for some women, they receive a phone call from the doctor’s office indicating that their normal cervical cells have changed and now show precancerous cells or cancer. This scenario is not uncommon. According to the ACS, in 2012, there were an estimated 12,170 new cases of invasive cervical cancer in the United States and 4,220 deaths. Cervical cancer was once one of the most common causes of cancer death among
American women, according to the ACS. But thanks to education and the increased use of the Pap test – a screening procedure that permits diagnosis of pre-invasive and early invasive cancer – the number of cervical cancer deaths in the U.S. continues to drop.
Though deaths from cervical cancer have decreased over the past several years, this disease is still a great cause for concern. Women who have not had regular Pap tests represent the vast majority of clinically diagnosed invasive cervical cancers, reports the ACS. The following guidelines are from the ACS regarding cervical screenings:
• Cervical cancer screening (testing) should begin at age 21. Women under 21 should not be tested.
• Women between ages 21 and 29 should have a Pap test every three years. Human Papillomavirus (HPV) testing should only be prescribed after an abnormal Pap test result.
• Women between the ages of 30 and 65 should have a Pap test plus an HPV test every five years. The Pap test alone can also be performed every 3 years.
• Women over age 65 who have had regular cervical cancer testing with normal results should not be tested for cervical cancer. Once testing is stopped, it should not be restarted. Women with a history of a serious cervical pre-cancer should continue to be tested for at least 20 years after that diagnosis, even if past age 65.
• A woman who has been vaccinated against HPV should still follow the screening recommendations for her age group.
It’s also important to note that women with a history of this disease may need to have a different screening schedule for cervical cancer.
“Though deaths from cervical cancer have decreased over the past several years, this disease is still a great cause for concern,” says Alison Calkins, M.D., radiation oncologist at ICCC/ICCI. “Detection and prevention are imperative to avoiding cervical cancer, and having a Pap test is thus far the most effective way to accomplish this.”
Excluding skin cancers, colorectal cancer is the third most common cancer diagnosed and the third leading cause of cancer-related deaths in both men and women in the United States. The ACS estimated 103,170 new cases of colon cancer and 40,290 new cases of rectal cancer in 2012. As a result, it is expected to have caused about 51,690 deaths.
“Colorectal cancer-related deaths continue to decline, but we still must make an asserted effort to get tested,” explains Hal Jacobson, M.D., medical director of ICCC/ICCI. “There is no excuse not to be tested because this is one form of cancer that we can prevent by undergoing a prescribed colonoscopy or stool test.”
Beginning at age 50, both men and women should follow one of the ACS’ recommended testing schedules:
Tests for Detecting Polyps and Cancer
• Flexible sigmoidoscopy every five years
• Colonoscopy every 10 years
• Double-contrast barium enema every five years
• CT colonography (virtual colonoscopy) every five years
Tests for Detecting Cancer
• Yearly fecal occult blood test (gFOBT), or
• Yearly fecal immunochemical test (FIT) every year, or
• Stool DNA test (sDNA)
Scheduled screenings will vary based on personal or family history.
Many people postpone cancer screenings because they are afraid of what their doctor may find. However, a few simple lifestyle changes will help alleviate those concerns by reducing your cancer risk. The ACS lists several ways for you to take control of your health:
• Stay at a healthy weight.
• Get moving with regular physical activity.
• Eat healthy with plenty of fruits and vegetables.
• Limit how much alcohol you drink (if you drink at all).
• Stay away from tobacco.
• Protect your skin.
• Know yourself, your family history, and your risks.
• Have regular check-ups and cancer screening tests.
While this may be a significant amount of information to absorb, there is also a tremendous amount of hope for all of us in knowing we can beat cancer by simply being more proactive about our health. If you haven’t already made a New Year’s Resolution, how about making one that will hold you and loved ones accountable for receiving regular cancer screenings? You will not only potentially save your own life, but also the lives of loved ones who may have neglected these screenings for far too long.
For more information, please visit
ICCC has 25 years of cancer-fighting experience having treated over 10,000 patients. They are dedicated to empowering patients to have the confidence they need to change their lives. Radiation Oncologists Drs. Hal Jacobson, Herman Flink, Maureen Holasek and Alison Calkins bring exceptional expertise in treating breast, lung, prostate, gynecologic, skin and other cancers.
As part of a larger, nation-wide oncology group of physicians and specialists under Vantage Oncology, the oncologists at ICCC have access to aggregated clinical information and best practices from the treatment of more than 1,000 patients per day, enabling them to develop highly-effective and peer-collaborated treatments. This gives many of the centers that work with Vantage, including ICCC, the ability to offer university-quality treatment services in smaller and more rural areas. It gives local communities exceptional services closer to home and in a non-hospital setting. To learn more, please visit
Vantage Oncology offers a complete development, implementation and management solution for radiation oncology practices. It provides ownership opportunities that empower physicians to maintain control of their practice while leveraging the strength of the company’s network and clinical resources. A multi-disciplinary team is committed to continuously raising the standards of cancer care. Vantage provides patients and their families with ultimate peace of mind through its commitment to clinical excellence and superior outcomes. For more information, please visit
American Cancer Society. Cancer Facts & Figures 2012. Atlanta, Ga: American Cancer Society; 2012.
Levin B, Lieberman DA, McFarland, et al. Screening and Surveillance for the Early Detection of Colorectal Cancer and Adenomatous Polyps, 2008: A Joint Guideline from the American Cancer Society, the US Multi-Society Task Force on Colorectal Cancer, and the American College of Radiology. CA Cancer J Clin. 2008;58.
Saslow D, Boetes C, Burke W, et al for the American Cancer Society Breast Cancer Advisory Group. American Cancer Society guidelines for breast screening with MRI as an adjunct to mammography. CA Cancer J Clin. 2007;57:75-89.
Saslow D, Solomon D, Lawson H, et al. American Cancer Society, American Society for Colposcopy and Cervical Pathology, and American Society for Clinical Pathology Screening Guidelines for the Prevention and Early Detection of Cervical Cancer. [published online ahead of print March 14, 2012]. CA Cancer J Clin. 2012;62(3). doi:10.3322/caac.21139. .
Smith RA, Cokkinides V, Eyre HJ. American Cancer Society guidelines for the early detection of cancer, 2006. CA Cancer J Clin. 2006;56:11-25.
Smith, RA, Cokkinides V, Brawley OW. Cancer screening in the United States, 2008: A review of current American Cancer Society guidelines and cancer screening issues. 2008. CA Cancer J Clin. 2008;58:161-179.

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