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How to Prevent Cancer or Find It Early

Overweight and obesity are associated with at least 13 different types of cancer. These cancers make up 40% of all cancers diagnosed. Learn more.

What Is Cancer?

Cancer is a term used for diseases in which abnormal cells divide without control and can invade other tissues. Cancer cells can spread to other parts of the body through the blood and lymph systems. Cancer is not just one disease, but many diseases. There are more than 100 kinds of cancer. For more information, visit the National Cancer Institute’s What Is Cancer?

How Can Cancer Be Prevented?

Screening for cervical and colorectal cancers as recommended helps prevent these diseases by finding precancerous lesions so they can be treated before they become cancerous. Screening for cervical, colorectal, and breast cancers also helps find these diseases at an early stage, when treatment works best. CDC offers free or low-cost mammograms and Pap tests nationwide, and free or low-cost colorectal cancer screening in six states.

Vaccines (shots) also help lower cancer risk. The human papillomavirus (HPV) vaccine helps prevent most cervical cancers and several other kinds of cancer. The hepatitis B vaccine can help lower liver cancer risk.

You can reduce your risk of getting cancer by making healthy choices like keeping a healthy weight, avoiding tobacco, limiting the amount of alcohol you drink, and protecting your skin.

Video about NCI's Cancer Information ServiceQuestions about cancer? The National Cancer Institute (NCI) provides clear and accurate answers to your questions about cancer and clinical trials free of charge in English and Spanish. Watch this video about NCI’s Cancer Information Service.