Fear of having cancer is not unusual, but there are a few actions you can take to help calm those fears:

Face your fear
Acknowledge your fears and look for ways to deal with your feelings. Many people try to ignore or hide “negative” feelings like anxiety and fear. Ignoring them only makes them grow stronger and potentially become overwhelming. Talking about them may help you discover the reasons behind them. You can also write down your thoughts in a journal.

Talk about your fears
Criticizing yourself for being afraid or telling yourself not to worry will not likely make these feelings go away. Accept that you are experiencing some anxiety. Sometimes, talking to your healthcare specialist may help you realize that what you are afraid of is probably unlikely to happen. You can also join a support group or talk to a therapist.

Talk with your doctor
Knowing your cancer risk or prognosis and planning for the future can help you feel more in control of your health.

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Have regular screenings
The surest way to know you don’t have cancer is to complete the screenings your physician recommends.

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Reduce stress
Finding ways to cope with stress will help lower your level of anxiety. Try different ways of dealing with stress to find out what works best for you. These might include:

  • Spending time with and friends and family
  • Focusing on hobbies and other things you enjoy
  • Meditating, taking a walk, or enjoying a bubble bath
  • Practicing yoga or other forms of exercise
  • Watching a funny movie or reading a funny book
  • Creative arts therapy

Pay attention to your body
Remember that many discomforts like colds, headaches or achy joints are normal. Your doctor can help keep your health in check.

Follow a healthy lifestyle
Although no single type of food can protect you against cancer, an overall healthy diet can support the immune system and improve your well-being. Healthy habits like exercising regularly, eating nutritious meals, and getting enough sleep can help you feel better, both emotionally and physically. Avoiding unhealthy habits, like excessive drinking or smoking, can help you feel like you have more control over your health.

Here are some other diet and activity recommendations for cancer prevention by the American Dietetic Association (ADA).

  • Carry as little extra body fat as possible, but don’t become underweight.
  • Practice physical activity for at least half an hour every day.
  • Avoid using supplements unless recommended by your medical professional.
  • Eat more vegetables, whole grains, fruits, and legumes (like beans).
  • Avoid sweetened drinks and limit the consumption of added-sugar foods.
  • Limit your consumption of processed meats.
  • If any, limit your daily intake to two alcoholic drinks for men and one for women.
  • Limit your intake of processed food.

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Jack Steel, MD, FACRO, is a board-certified Radiation Oncologist with more than 20 years of brachytherapy experience. He has performed over 4,000 prostate seed implant procedures. Additionally, Steel has extensive training in all areas of cancer treatment including lung cancer, head and neck cancer, breast cancer, skin cancer, and GI Malignancies. Steel was instrumental in establishing prostate seed implant programs in numerous hospitals and surgery centers in Tampa, Brandon, Sun City Center, Plant City, and Bradenton, FL. Steel is the author and principal investigator of a research project entitled “Combined Modality Therapy Treatment (Triple Therapy) for Unfavorable Early Stage Prostate Cancer.” The study is funded via two unconditional grants sponsored by TAP Pharmaceuticals, and Schering Laboratory Corporation. He graduated summa cum laude from Northern Michigan University and received his medical degree in 1985 from Wayne State University School of Medicine in Detroit, Michigan. Steel completed his residency program at the University of Southern California, Los Angeles, where he was Chief Resident, and subsequently became an assistant professor at the University of Southern California. Steel then served three years with the United States Air Force as Chief of Radiation Oncology at Keesler Medical Center in Biloxi, Mississippi before entering private practice in Florida in 1993. Steel is a member of the American Society for Therapeutic Radiation and Oncology; the American College of Radiation Oncology; the American College of Radiology; the Florida Radiological Society; the Radiosurgery Society (RSS); the Florida Medical Association; and the Hillsborough County Medical Association.