For those of us interested in preventing cancer, the promotion of health must be at the forefront of our intentions and activities. Health promotion consists of increasing activities that encourage states of well-being, and which help to actualize the health potential of individuals, families, communities, and society.

The World Health Organization suggests that, “prevention offers the most cost-effective long-term strategy for the control of cancer,” and includes a variety of often preventable factors which can lead to cancer in our daily lives, including environmental pollution, occupational carcinogens, and radiation.

Prevention can be understood as encompassing 3 different levels awareness and activities, including:

Primary Prevention: Primary prevention consists of activities guided towards decreasing the probability of specific illness or dysfunctions in individuals, families, and communities, including the active protection against stressors.

Secondary Prevention: Secondary prevention emphasizes early diagnosis and prompt intervention to halt the pathological process, thereby shortening its duration, severity, and enabling the individual to regain normal function at the earliest possible point in time.

Tertiary Prevention: The goal of tertiary prevention is more than halting the disease process itself; it is restoring the individual to an optimum level of functioning.



Pender, N. (1987) Health Promotion in Nursing Practice. Second Edition. Norwalk: Appleton & Lange.

World Health Organization (2012) Cancer Prevention. (Available online at: [Accessed: August 2012].