The threat of cancer is becoming increasingly severe worldwide. The number of deaths from cancer has increased from 8.8 million in 2017 to 9.6 million in 2018. According to figures from the Hospital Authority, there were more than 31,400 new cancer cases in Hong Kong in 2016, an increase of nearly 4% from 2015. In 2017, there was a record high of 33,075 new cases, a 5.1% increase from the previous year. The five commonest types of cancer in Hong Kong are colorectal cancer, lung cancer, breast cancer, prostate cancer, and liver cancer, making cancer the leading killer. Despite the rapid development of technology, Hong Kong's population aging leads to a constant increase in the number of new cancer cases in recent years. Besides, a busy lifestyle, a diet of much meat and few vegetables, insufficient exercise and other lifestyle habits have greatly increased the risk of cancer in Hong Kong people. As personal lifestyle habits are the key to cancer prevention, increasing public awareness of cancer has become a global issue.
According to a report by the World Health Organization, at least one-third of cancers are preventable. Engaging in more physical activities and maintaining a healthy diet can prevent about 40% of cancers.
To prevent cancer, it is important to pay attention to the following:
- Avoid smoking and drinking alcohol
- Consume more high-fibre foods such as whole grains, brown rice, fresh vegetables and fruits
- Eat less red and processed meats
- Avoid eating fried and pickled foods
- Control body weight and avoid being overweight or underweight
- Avoid excessive exposure to sunlight
- Maintain a positive mind
- Receive regular health check-ups and cancer screening
Cancer screening is a test performed on asymptomatic people to diagnose cancer before symptoms appear. It can identify high-risk individuals and is currently very effective in preventing cancer. Taking colorectal cancer screening as an example, faecal occult blood tests and stool DNA tests (for certain cancer genes) are non-invasive and simple screening methods. If DNA mutations or polyps are found, the polyps can be removed and tested immediately, which can reduce the incidence of colorectal cancer by 3-8 times. Women should also remember to undergo regular breast and cervical cancer screening and never overlook their risks.