There isn’t a person alive that wouldn’t want access to some magical crystal ball if it could allow them a detailed accounting of how their futures will play out. Most would probably hope to envision themselves as enjoying long lives surrounded by those they love. Gone would be the anxiety and worry of not knowing what tomorrow would bring, because as long as one knows his or her final destination, the details of the journey often become inconsequential.
Sounds good, right? Yet if such a fantasy were to be made possible, a good number of those who looked into their futures wouldn’t enjoy what they see, due largely in part to those futures being cut much shorter than they ever would have anticipated. While such knowledge would probably not be viewed as welcome, it would at least provide the foresight of those mistakes and missteps that one should avoid in order to prevent his or her untimely end.
What One Can Know
While there are certain misfortunes in life that can easily be avoided with the proper planning, cancer certainly wouldn’t seem to be one of them. This merciless killer claims 7.6 million lives worldwide each year, according to the CDC. Unfortunately, medical science has yet to provide a magical pill or error-proof inoculation that can prevent it. Yet that’s not to say that research hasn’t provided an acceptable alternative. On the contrary, researchers have actually arrived at a point where, at least for potential cancer patients, the “crystal ball” fantasy can be turned into a reality.
The key lies in the human genome, which basically serves as a blueprint for one’s body. In it lie those traits and predispositions that one has inherited from his or her parents. Included in those are the potential vulnerabilities for certain forms of disease, including cancer. Through careful genetic testing for cancer, doctors can now tell patients whether or not their likelihood of cancer is increased because of their unique genetic signature.
Can Cancer Be Prevented?
Some may wonder how knowledge of such a predisposition can be helpful – read more at www.gtldna.com. After all, if it’s written on one’s genome that cancer is likely in his or her future, how can it be stopped, right? Yet a positive reading for those genetic markers that indicate a cancer predisposition needn’t be viewed as a death sentence. Rather, it can provide that knowledge and hope that through proper preventative measures, one might be able to either delay the onset of the identified form of cancer, or perhaps even avoid it altogether.
Given that cancer itself is often caused by a genetic mutation, many think that little can be done to mitigate the risk of acquiring it. Yet while there are times where these mutations occur randomly, there are nearly as many others where external factors influence them. If one has an idea that he or she is at a higher risk of such mutation happening within his or her body, than certain steps can be taken to help mitigate those risks:
- Advanced cancer screening: A positive genetic test result should lead one to seek cancer screening exams much earlier in life. For example, it’s often recommended that men have a screening for prostate cancer and women for breast cancer after the age of 40. Yet if a genetic test shows a predisposition for either of those forms of cancer, one should definitely consider such screenings at an earlier age.
- Lifestyle changes: Given that many cancerous mutations are triggered by certain external forces, there are certain changes that one can make to eliminate those risks. Avoiding alcohol or tobacco, or combating obesity through diet and exercise are just a few of these changes.
- Surgical intervention: Prophylactic or preventive surgeries are also on option for those at a higher risk of certain forms of cancer. An example of this would be a woman choosing to have a mastectomy if she’s at a higher risk of breast cancer. Pharmacological treatment through the use of certain medications, known as chemoprevention, is also a perfectly viable option.
Renowned author Steven R. Covey recommends espousing to the life philosophy that one should always “begin with the end in mind”. Those who have an idea of the challenges that they’re likely to face in life will be that much more prepared to either deal with or possibly even prevent them. While a genetic predisposition for cancer would no doubt loom large in one’s life, knowledge of such a fact gives one a fighting chance of possibly avoiding it.