Cancer Care

Cancer Prevention & Vaccination

Making healthy lifestyle choices can help prevent cancer.

How can I reduce my risk of cancer?

  • Don’t smoke or use tobacco. Quitting smoking is the most important thing you can do for your health. Need help quitting? Call the Maine Tobacco Helpline at 1-800-207-1230.

  • Be safe in the sun. Use sunscreen, and cover up when you’re in the sun. Stay in the shade when the sun is at its brightest – between 10 am and 4 pm.

  • Have fewer alcoholic drinks. The American Cancer Society recommends no more than one drink per day for women or two drinks per day for men.

  • Know your family history for cancer. Talk to your doctor about getting genetic testing if you think you are at risk.

  • Eat lots of fruits and vegetables. The American Cancer Society recommends eating at least 5 servings of fruits and vegetables every day.

  • Know your risk factors. Some people may inherit a higher risk of cancer. MaineHealth offers evaluation, genetic counseling and genetic testing, if indicated.

  • Get all recommended cancer vaccines. Some types of cancer caused by the human papilloma virus (HPV) and the hepatitis B virus (HBV) can be prevented with vaccines.

  • Have cancer screenings. Have regular cancer screenings, and get regular medical check-ups. Screening tests can find certain cancers in early stages, when treatment is most effective.

What are cancer vaccines?

Cancer vaccines are shots that keep certain cancers from growing in the body. They help the immune system fight the specific viruses that cause cancer. These vaccines only work if they are given to someone before they are exposed to the virus. Even when you get these vaccines, it is important to follow your provider’s recommendations for cervical cancer screening and hepatitis B testing. You might have been infected with HPV or HBV before getting the vaccine. Talk with your family medical provider about which vaccines are right for you and your family.

Two cancer prevention vaccines have been approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and recommended by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

  • HPV vaccine: HPV vaccine is recommended for all children regardless of gender and is usually given between ages 9 and 12. It is also recommended for young adults with certain risk factors or who did not get the vaccine when they were younger. There are two HPV vaccine brands: Gardasil® and Cervarix®. Three doses of either vaccine are needed for full protection. Cervarix® can only be given to females age 9 through 26 years. It protects against 2 types of HPV that cause cervical cancer. Gardasil® can be given to males and females age 9 through 26 years. It prevents 9 types of HPV infection. Learn more. 
  • Hepatitis B vaccine: Hepatitis B vaccine prevents HBV infection and liver cancer caused by HBV. This vaccine is recommended for all children. The first dose is usually given at birth and other doses are usually given by 6 months of age. It is also recommended for children who did not get it when they were younger and adults with certain risk factors or who want to be protected. There are two brands of hepatitis B vaccine: Engerix-B® and Recombivax HB®. Three doses of either are needed for full protection. There are also three combination vaccines that include hepatitis B vaccine: Pediarix®, Comvax® and Twinrix®. These vaccines also protect against at least one other disease.

HPV Vaccination is Cancer Prevention

Human papillomavirus (HPV) is a common infection that can affect anyone. Almost 35,000 people in the US are diagnosed with a cancer caused by HPV each year. Thankfully, the HPV vaccine is estimated to prevent 90% of HPV-related cancers.

Cancer Screening

Cancer screenings need to be a regular part of your routine health exams. Know the guidelines for screening tests that can detect cancer early before there are symptoms.

Cancer Diagnosis

There are many ways to diagnose and screen for cancer. Some cancers can be diagnosed through imaging tests. Diagnosing other cancers may involve taking samples through biopsy.