Reducing Your Risk of Recurrence
Cancer is complicated. Even after you have been declared cancer free, the fear of recurrence can feel overwhelming. This lingering fear is a common emotion post-treatment but there are a number of things that you can do to reduce your personal risk of a recurrence.
- Eat a Healthy Diet: A plant-based diet can reduce your overall risk of cancer. Individuals who eat diets rich in fruits and vegetables and sparse in meat and animal fat have lower rates of some cancers, including lung, breast, colon and stomach cancers. A low fat, low calorie diet rich in fruits and vegetables is helpful, as is reducing red meat intake and 2 to 3 servings of fish a week. (https://www.nccn.org/patients/resources/life_after_cancer/nutrition.aspx)
- Exercise Regularly: Experts recommend 3 to 5 hours of moderate exercise per week. Physical activity provides a variety of benefits that can help reduce risk of cancer occurrence and recurrence. Specifically exercise can improve immune system function and lower levels of hormones and growth factors associated with cancer development and progression.(https://www.cancer.gov/about-cancer/causes-prevention/risk/obesity/physical-activity-fact-sheet)
- Limit Alcohol Intake: Research has shown a strong connection between alcohol and the development of a variety of cancers including breast, colon, esophageal, and liver cancers. If you choose to drink, experts suggest limiting alcohol one drink per day.(https://www.cancer.gov/about-cancer/causes-prevention/risk/alcohol/alcohol-fact-sheet)
- Maintain a Healthy Weight: Research has shown that obesity might increase the risks of some cancers, including cancer recurrence. While there are no guarantees, maintaining a healthy weight can optimize your overall health and reduce your risk of cancer returning. (https://www.cancer.gov/about-cancer/causes-prevention/risk/obesity/obesity-fact-sheet)
- Get Screened: Some screenings can identify issues early, before they even become cancer. Depending on your age and risk factors, these screenings may include pap smears, mammograms and colonoscopies. Flu shots, annual physicals and regular dentist appointments, etc. can help keep you generally healthy.