September To Do List: Get Prostate Screening

September To Do List: Get Prostate Screening

Did you know…

Prostate cancer is the most common type of cancer (excluding skin cancer) among men? About 1 in 8 men will receive a prostate cancer diagnosis during their lifetime, with higher rates among Black and African American men.Prostate Cancer Ribbons in heart shape

Like most cancers, usually the earlier prostate cancer is caught, the better the chances of staying disease-free. Screenings are important because you may not have any symptoms.

When to start prostate cancer screening is a personal decision that should be made after talking with your doctor. They will assess factors such as your age, race, medical and family history, additional risk factors and any symptoms you may be experiencing. Together, you’ll discuss the pros and cons of screening.

Prostate Cancer Bag It BagThe good news is that the vast majority of prostate cancers are found just within the prostate (local) or the region near it (regional), when active surveillance or immediate treatment has a very high success rate.  

Developed for men with early-stage prostate cancer, we launched a new Prostate Cancer Bag It Bag to arm you and your partner with helpful tools and reliable information to make decisions and self-advocate during your prostate cancer journey.

Order Your Prostate Cancer Bag

Fighting Cancer Through Screening Legislation

Fighting Cancer Through Screening Legislation

Amy Cojanis, Bag It Cancer Administrative Services Manager, Mo Osife, Philanthropy/Advocacy Director for Cancer Support Communities of Arizona and Will Grove, Outreach Director of the Brain Injury Alliance of Arizona contributed to a guest editorial on how we can all come together to fight cancer through legislation. We are grateful to these writers and organizations as well as to Arizona co-sponsors like @SenatorSinema @RepRaulGrijalva @RepCiscomani for working to push multi-cancer screening legislation. Read our op-ed on the issue.

Hereditary Cancer: When and How to Genetic Testing

Hereditary Cancer: When and How to Genetic Testing

You may worry that having cancer could mean your children will get cancer too. Cancer itself is not passed down (inherited) from parents to children. But a genetic change (mutation) that increases the risk (possibility) of cancer can be passed down if it is present in a parent’s egg or sperm cells. While most cancer is due to random chance or environmental risk factors, up to 10% of all cancers may be caused by inherited genetic changes.

If a person inherits a genetic change from a parent, it does not mean they will definitely get cancer, but the risk (chances) is higher. It also means that their parents,genetic testing children, and brothers and sisters have a 50% chance of having the same genetic change and a higher risk of getting cancer. Their blood relatives on that side of the family (mother’s side or father’s side) like aunts, uncles and cousins may also have the same genetic change. Genetic testing for hereditary cancer can help a family to learn which, if any, relatives have a higher chance of getting cancer. It can also bring relief when there is no inherited cancer in the family.

Even when there is no gene mutation found in a family, sometimes cancer is more common than expected. This is called familial cancer, and happens in up to 20% of all cancers. It is not known why familial cancers happen. Some possible reasons are unknown genetic risk factors not yet included on genetic testing or lifestyle or environmental factors shared by multiple family members.

If you have been diagnosed with cancer or have a family history of cancer, genetic testing may be useful to find out if hereditary cancer is in the family. Genetic testing can give your family members useful knowledge about their health so they can take steps to lower their risk of getting cancer through lifestyle changes, health screenings, and other medical care recommended by their doctor. Ask your doctor if genetic testing is appropriate for your family’s situation. 

Genetic Testing

Genetic testing does not prevent or treat cancer. It is a laboratory test that looks for changes (mutations) in a person’s genes that could help:

  • Show if they have a higher risk for certain cancers.
  • Learn if this increased risk could be passed to children or other family members.
  • Change medical care, including knowing better about when to screen for cancer, and how frequently.

Genetic testing does not say if someone has cancer, or that they are guaranteed to have cancer. But it can tell you if you have a higher risk than most people.

Testing is usually done with a small sample of blood, but it can sometimes be done with saliva, cells from inside the cheek, or skin cells. It will usually take several weeks to get the results.

Not everyone needs to get genetic testing. Ask your doctor if this type of testing could benefit you and your care. 

Making Decisions About Genetic Testing

To decide if genetic testing is recommended for you, your doctor will have a conversation with you to understand your risk and your family’s history with cancer. They will ask you for important details such as which blood relatives were diagnosed with cancer, their age at diagnosis, and what kinds of cancer they had. Some people feel uncomfortable discussing their family members’ health with others, but keep in mind that your healthcare team wants to help and honor you and your family.

Genetic swab testBased on the family health information you explain to your doctor, a genetic counselor can be very helpful. A genetic counselor is a healthcare professional with specialized training in genetics and counseling to support patients wanting more information about how inherited conditions might affect them or their families. Genetic counselors also explain the meaning of genetic test results in the context of a patient’s family history, and help patients and their families understand this information.  They will describe the genetic testing in detail, including the pros and cons of testing, and exploring psychosocial implications of genetic testing before you make this personal decision. If testing is done, they can explain what the results mean for you and for your family.

Cancer can be very overwhelming and knowing that there is a chance that it runs in your family can be difficult. To begin with, you did not cause your cancer, and getting cancer is not your fault or anyone else’s fault. It is important to take it one step at a time and remember that there are professionals who can help you and your family with your concerns.

If you are tested, keep a copy of your report to find out what tests were given and what the results were. Keep this as part of your permanent health record.

Additional Resources

Find genetic counselors  |

Learn which cancers have genetic tests  |

Frequently asked questions about genetic testing  |

How to get genetic testing  |


Cancer: 4 Myths You Need to Know

Cancer: 4 Myths You Need to Know

With all the medical advances and education for cancer, it is amazing that myths and misconceptions about cancer still abound and worry us needlessly.Myth vs Fact graphic

Here we debunk a few common misunderstandings around cancer. Share this information with people as you gather this holiday season.  It could ease others’ cancer fears.


Number one

Cancer is always fatal.

Fortunately, this is incorrect. According to the National Cancer Institute Office of Cancer Survivorship, as of January 2022, it is estimated that there are 18.1 million cancer survivors in the United States. This represents approximately 5.4% of the population. The number of cancer survivors is projected to increase by 24.4%, to 22.5 million, by 2032.

Advances in the prevention, screening and treatment of cancer are improving cancer survivorship tremendously. 

number 2

Cancer is contagious.

Generally speaking, no, cancer cannot be “caught” from another person. It is also true that certain cancer-causing viruses and bacteria passed from one person to another can increase the likelihood of developing cancer. In rare circumstances involving transplantation or pregnancy, transmission has been known to occur.

Number 3

Cancer runs in families.

While some of us are born with genes passed down from our parents that may predispose us to developing cancer at some point in our lives, only about 5-10% of cancers are due to mutations inherited from a parent. Most cancers are caused by genetic changes that occur and build up from lifestyle choices and/or exposure to chemicals and environmental factors during our lifetime.

Number 4

Everything around us causes cancer.

Who hasn’t heard that using deodorant, cosmetics, hair dyes, smart phones, microwaves, sugar, artificial sweeteners, or being in close proximity to power lines all can cause cancer?

The good news: there is no consistent, conclusive scientific evidence to support these claims.

When you hear new or suspicious information about cancer, it’s a good idea to fact check by discussing it with your doctor. If you prefer to do your own online research, visit reliable cancer organization websites like these to find credible information you can trust. And, of course, there is a wealth of information on Bag It Cancer’s Resource Center.

National Cancer Institute

American Society of Clinical Oncology (ASCO)

But Cancer Doesn’t Run in My Family! What you should know about genetic testing

But Cancer Doesn’t Run in My Family! What you should know about genetic testing


Many people are shocked by their cancer diagnosis when no one in their family has been diagnosed with cancer. Cancer is caused by genetic changes (mutations or variants) in a person’s genes, chromosomes, or proteins, but that doesn’t generally mean it’s inherited from a parent. In fact, only about 5-10% of cancers are due to inherited cancer syndrome (germline mutation).

Whether you personally have cancer or not, genetic testing can be helpful for your situation. If you have a cancer that was caused by a mutation, genetic testing can provide important information about how to treat your cancer, as well as your risk for developing a second cancer. 

If you have not been diagnosed with cancer, genetic testing can estimate the likelihood of being diagnosed with certain types of cancer in your lifetime. The test can tell you if you have a higher risk than most people of developing those cancers, but not that you will definitely be diagnosed.

Most cancers are caused by acquired (somatic) variants which occur spontaneously during a person’s lifetime, often due to lifestyle and environmental factors. These variants are not passed on to the next generation. Sometimes, cancers can be common in a family but are not due to an inherited gene mutation.

If you do have a genetic mutation, you and your family members can take steps to manage your cancer risks and health care. Children of parents with an inherited cancer mutation have a 50 percent chance of having the mutation themselves.

Discuss your individual circumstances and family history of cancer with your doctor. Seek their advice on whether you should be referred for genetic testing, and which tests to have. Testing is a complex decision on multiple levels, with implications for your family as well. A genetic counselor is highly recommended before and after testing as interpreting the test results can also be complicated.


For more information about genetic testing, please visit these websites.