Cancer Prevention Starts with You

February is Cancer Prevention Awareness Month, a great time to refresh your memory about ways to live well and protect your health. Follow these guidelines now and throughout the year to stay smart about minimizing your risks.

Risk factors

The National Cancer Institute* defines a risk factor as anything that raises a person's chance of developing a disease. The more you know about any cancer risk factors you may have, the better decisions you can make about healthy and lasting changes to your lifestyle. General risk factors for cancer include:

  • Poor diet, obesity and low physical activity
  • Family history of cancer
  • Tobacco and alcohol use
  • Types of viral infections, including human papillomavirus (HPV)
  • Exposure to sunlight
  • Older age

Preventive screening

Preventive cancer screenings can help find early signs of the disease while it is more likely to be curable. The American Cancer Society (ACS)** lists the following types of cancer and their related screenings as key to prevention and early detection:

  • Breast cancer
  • Colon and rectal cancer and polyps
  • Cervical cancer
  • Endometrial (uterine) cancer
  • Lung cancer
  • Prostate cancer

You can find a full listing of ACS's cancer screening guidelines at

Lifestyle enhancements

When it comes to our health, lifestyle can greatly influence the risk of serious disease, including some types of cancer. While many issues surrounding cancer and cancer prevention are beyond our control, the following lifestyle modifications may help protect your health:

  • Improve nutrition
  • Lose excessive weight
  • Increase physical activity or exercise
  • Eliminate tobacco use
  • Reduce or eliminate alcohol use
  • Stay out of the sun

For help kicking the smoking habit once and for all, Health Net offers:

  • Quit For Life® offers quit coaches providing one-on-one telephonic support to help you quit smoking or using tobacco. Call 1-800-893-5597, and select menu option 9, or 1-866-QUIT-4-LIFE (1-866-784-8454).
  • A six-week, online tobacco cessation course to support your lifestyle change.

To get started with the online course, log in to your account and click on the Wellness Center tab.

In the Wellness Center, you'll also find other lifestyle support such as videos and articles on nutrition, weight loss and sleeping well. Choose Tips for Staying Healthy > Explore All Wellness Tools > Library.

Take the next step for health

Talk with your doctor about cancer prevention and learn how you can live your healthiest life. And use Health Net's Preventive Guidelines to know when to get tests and check-ups. From the Wellness Center page, click on Staying Healthy > Preventive Guidelines.

*National Cancer Institute (NCI), Cancer Prevention Overview (PDQ ®)–Patient Version,, August 26, 2016.

**American Cancer Society website, American Cancer Society Guidelines for the Early Detection of Cancer,, July 26, 2016.