ROCHESTER, N.Y. (WROC) — The month of February kicks off National Cancer Prevention month and the University of Rochester Medical Center (URMC) is reminding folks of all the ways we can prevent cancer by changing daily habits.

Dr. Colleen Fogarty with URMC explains cancer isn’t simply “one disease.” She says cancer is vast and complex, making those facing a diagnosis feel that the life-altering experience can at times feel life-threatening.

“Quitting smoking is very healthy and important for cancer prevention and helping young people in your life avoid starting altogether, keeping a healthy weight, and also moving your body exercising regularly, staying active, eating a healthy diet, protecting your skin from the sun, and getting immunized for those things that can cause cancer, such as the human papilloma virus,” Dr. Fogarty said.

According to the American Association of Cancer Research, 40% of all cancers diagnosed and nearly half of all deaths from cancer in the U.S. can be attributed to preventable causes. Things like smoking, excess body weight, physical inactivity, or excessive exposure to the sun. However, still, so many folks don’t take preventative measures. Dr. Fogarty says that can be attributed to the effort and willpower it takes to change our habits but also says it’s never too late to start.

“Working closely with your healthcare team, including any programs that your workplace may sponsor can be a good way to take action to change any of those habits. And seeing your physician or your health care team for periodic cancer screenings is also helpful. With the COVID pandemic, some of those things have been postponed or there have been large waiting times. So, encouraging people to get back with their health team now is a good plan,” Dr. Fogarty said.

URMC’s Center for Community Health and Prevention offers programs, including a cancer prevention program.

“There are additional employer-based programs that are worth checking out based on where you work, as well as the New York State Quitline, which is designed to help people who smoke with resources to enable them to quit,” Dr. Fogarty said.

For more information on URMC’s cancer prevention program, click here.