Celebrity cancer battles inspire others to take action towards early detection

Celebrities being open about their cancer

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(ABC 6 News) – You may have noticed a lot of cancer-related headlines this week but it isn’t just celebrities being diagnosed. In fact, in 2020, more than 18 million cases of cancer were diagnosed.

Every day at Mayo Clinic, people come and go to get treatment for cancer. For many, it’s a private battle but when a celebrity goes public with their diagnosis, it can inspire others to take steps toward early detection.

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“I think it does raise awareness for cancer like it removes the stigma that cancer already has and I think that would help fund more cancer research,” said Favour Gerald-Ugwue, a first-year student at the University of Minnesota-Rochester.

More screenings can help catch cancer early on. It starts with a physical exam followed by tests, scans, and biopsies.

But cancer isn’t always caught early as oftentimes there are no symptoms until it’s too late. But now, it’s a simple blood test that can help get to the bottom of things.

—Related: By disclosing his cancer, Charles breaks centuries of royal tradition. But he shares only so much

“We now have the scientific capability to do a blood test and to find little bits of circulating tumor DNA in the blood,” said Dr. Richard Deming, who works in Cancer Care and Integrative Medicine at MercyOne.

Although there are those celebrities who go public with their private struggle, not everyone chooses this route.

Take actor Chadwick Boseman for example, he kept his diagnosis private. The public not even knowing he had cancer until he passed away.

Serena Orupabo, also a first-year student at the University of Minnesota-Rochester, says Boseman going public about it could have made a difference.

“With Chadwick Boseman being a person of color, and the healthcare division between people of color, I think it would’ve been a little bit helpful that this is something you should be checked for.”

Whether you have a family history or not, it’s always advised to eat healthy and exercise. You should always make sure you’re up-to-date on routine screenings like a pap smear, mammogram, or a digital rectal exam.

“Anything that doesn’t seem right: new skin lesions that just seem to be like they’re changing, new symptoms that you feel aren’t going away with standard care, those are the types of things to bring attention to your health team,” said Dr. Stephen Ansell who is a Hematologist and Oncologist at Mayo Clinic.

Preventing cancer is a significant public health challenge and the first step is up to you. In fact, around 40% of all cancer cases could be prevented by tackling risk factors relating to diet, nutrition, and physical activity.