ESPN’s 2017 V Week runs through Dec. 8. During the fundraiser for cancer research, The Undefeated is telling stories about early detection, clinical trial studies and research in minority communities. ESPN hopes to raise funds and awareness about the important cause championed by our friend, coach Jim Valvano. One hundred percent of all cash donations go directly to cancer research. Donate here today.
Besides V Week, it’s also Cancer Screen Week. According to the World Health Organization, 8.8 million people die from cancer worldwide and African-Americans have a higher death rate than other groups.
Over the past three years there have been more and more studies questioning whether early detection and cancer screenings actually save lives. But don’t tell that to the millions of survivors who got their cancer diagnosis early and are sharing their stories.
For instance, NFL wife and Greenville, South Carolina, native Niya Brown Matthews is a two-time cancer survivor who received her first diagnosis of stage 2 cancer in her left breast when she was just 27.
Matthews said she had no symptoms. She completed a breast self-examination in the shower and felt a knot under her arm. She underwent a lumpectomy and endured several rounds of radiation.
“When it came back in the second breast, I opted to get that one cut off and just rebuild,” Matthews said.
Now cancer-free, she is a cheerleader for early detection.
According to the National Cancer Institute, in 2016 an estimated 1,685,210 new cases of cancer were expected to be diagnosed in the United States and 595,690 people would die from the disease.
Despite the debate over cancer screenings, here are five reasons that they are important, especially in communities of color.
Early detection can help get an early start on fighting cancer.
Screening tests can help determine whether and when a treatment works best. It also determines specific precursors of genes or family history and in its early stages can reduce death rates.
Early detection may extend your life expectancy.
Early detection may mean remission for many, but it can also mean more years with your loved ones. Screenings can place you on a path to a proper treatment plan, which can extend longevity.
You can beat cancer.
Screening tests can find precancerous cells that can be removed before they turn into cancer. Cancers of the colon, rectum and cervix can be prevented through screening and can oftentimes detect cancer before symptoms appear.
Screening can prompt patients to lead a healthy lifestyle.
Some early detection includes conversations regarding family history, which can lead to testing for genes that may determine whether you are at risk for specific cancers. Knowing your risk factors can spark a healthy lifestyle that may help combat certain precursors.
Screening can cut down on health care costs.
Early detection can also cut the cost of treatment. In 2010, the total annual economic cost of cancer through health care expenditure and loss of productivity was $1.16 trillion. According to WHO, studies have shown that treatment for early diagnoses are less expensive than treating patients at advanced stages.