Cancer Prevention

Cancer Prevention includes steps you can take to lower your chance of getting cancer. Many things can make you more likely to get cancer. Cancer can run in your family. Your age, your diet and lifestyle, where you live, and many other things can increase your risk of getting cancer. Preventing cancer not only includes changes to your diet and exercise, but also staying away from things known to cause cancer. Avoiding cancer also means finding and treating your health problems early, especially those that can turn into cancer without treatment. You can take steps to reduce your risk by making changes in your daily routine.

Here are 6 steps you can take to lower your chance of getting cancer. If you are worried about getting cancer or want support making a lifestyle change, talk to your healthcare provider.

Protect your skin from the sun

Protect yourself and your family from the sun’s damaging rays and reduce your risk of skin cancer. The American Academy of Dermatology has the following tips to reduce your risk:

  • Stay in the Shade – between 10 am to 2 pm the sun is strongest
  • Wear clothes that protect you from the sun – wear lightweight and long-sleeved shirts, pants, a wide-brimmed hat, and sunglasses with UV protection when possible
  • Wear Sunscreen – use broad-spectrum, water-resistant sunscreen with an SPF of 30 or higher anytime you are outside, even on cloudy days. Reapply every 2 hours, or after swimming or sweating.
  • Be careful near water, snow, and sand – these reflect the sun’s rays and can increase your chance of getting a sunburn
  • Don’t tan – Stay away from tanning beds, sun lamps, and tanning salons. Stay out of the sun when you are outside.
  • Be aware of medicine side effects – some medicines may make you more likely to burn. Ask your provider or the pharmacist what medicines can make you more likely to get a sunburn.
  • Do skin self-exams every month – if anything is new, different, not healing, or bleeding, see a dermatologist (skin specialist) for an exam.

Know your family medical history

Cancer can run in families, so it is important you know your family history. If members of your family have had cancer you might be at higher risk of getting it too. Talk to your provider about your family history and let them know if your family history changes.

You should try to find out if your close family members have had cancer before. This includes your parents, brothers and sisters and your children as well as your grandparents, your aunts and uncles, your nieces and nephews and your grandchildren. Try to find out what type of cancer they had, how old they were, and if it is was on your mother or father’s side of the family. Here is a questionnaire to get you started, ASCO Family Cancer History Questionnaire.

Get immunized: Stay up to date on your vaccinations

There are some viruses like human papillomavirus and hepatitis B virus that have been linked to cancer. Vaccines can keep you from getting these viruses.

Hepatitis B Virus (HBV)


What is HBV?

Hepatitis B (Hep B) is caused by the hepatitis B virus that attacks and hurts the liver. It spreads through contact with blood or body fluids. Many people never know they have hepatitis B because most do not have any symptoms. The only way to know for sure is by having a blood test. There is a vaccine for hepatitis B to prevent getting the hepatitis B virus and there is a treatment if you do get hepatitis B. If you have hepatitis B for a long time you can get cirrhosis or liver cancer.

What is the Hep B vaccine?

The Hep B vaccine is safe and it works! The vaccine is recommended for all infants, all children younger than 19 years old who have not been vaccinated and for people at risk for infection. To learn more about how you could be at risk for Hep B exposure, click here.


Human Papillomavirus (HPV)


What is HPV?

HPV is the most common sexually transmitted infection (STI). HPV can cause genital warts and cancers. Anyone who has sex can get HPV, even if you only have sex with one person. Vaginal sex, anal sex and oral sex can all give you HPV infection.

What is the HPV vaccine?

The Gardasil 9 HPV vaccine protects you from the 9 types of HPV that cause cancers like cervical and other HPV-related cancers and disease. The vaccine is recommended for boys and girls, age 9 and over and for men and women who are younger than 26 years old.

Girls and young women should get the Gardasil 9 vaccine to be protected again cervical cancer, genital warts, vulvar cancer, vaginal cancer, and anal cancer. There are two HPV types that cause most cervical cancer cases. Even if a woman gets the HPV vaccine, it is important to continue to be screened for cervical cancer.

Boys and young men should get the Gardasil 9 vaccine to protect against genital warts, anal cancer, throat and neck cancers, and penile cancer.

Stop or Never Start Using Tobacco: Find help for quitting tobacco/nicotine products

Parkland has many resources to help you stop smoking. Quitting smoking is hard, especially if you have been smoking for many years. Whether you are ready to quit or are just interested in learning more about our services, we encourage you to reach out. Quitting smoking is one of the best things you can do for your health.

Smoking cessation services at available to ANY Parkland patients:

  • COPC adult smoking cessation group classes
    • English and Spanish
    • Available in-person and for virtual 1:1 calls
    • Call 214-266-1235 to speak with our experienced counselor, Juan Prieto
  • Parkland Smoking Cessation Clinic
    • No referral required, call 214-590-5691 for more information.
    • Offers weekly support classes, 1:1 consultation with a health care provider, and behavioral counseling.
Smoking cessation services available to anyone who lives in Texas:

  • Texas Quitline
    • Free services for all Texans
    • 2 weeks of free patches or gum
    • Free phone or online coaching sessions
    • Available in English/Spanish
    • Free services available by phone or online
      • Call 1-800-YES-QUIT (937-7848) to talk to a Quit Coach now
      • You may also click here for a free web-based chat service
Smoking cessation services available to Parkland Oncology patients:

  • For Parkland patients being seen by the Parkland Cancer Program, we have a nurse practitioner and a physician assistant that do 1:1 virtual smoking cessation visits. For more information, talk to your provider.

Eat a healthy diet

For more information about eating a healthy diet, here is a link to recommendations on our Cancer Program Nutrition Page