As D.C. medical malpractice lawyers,one of our malpractice verdicts was against a doctor who failed to order a screening test that would have diagnosed cancer when it was early enough to cure. Here are ways to reduce your risk of cancer.

All of us know someone touched by cancer (over 1.5 million people were diagnosed with some form of cancer in 2010), and although there are forms of cancer that can't be prevented or aren't affected by a healthy lifestyle, there are ways that you can help reduce your risk of some common forms of cancer, including:

Screening:  Following recommendations for early detection screening in cervical, colorectal and breast cancers can effectively reduce your risk of developing these types of cancer.  Since these cancers typically originate from pre-cancerous lesions, screening tests can detect the lesions before malignancy.  For cervical, colorectal, breast cancers and other cancers, screening can also lead to the detection of the cancer at the earliest stages, when the disease is more likely to respond to treatment.

More screening: Colon cancer has a 90% survival rate if it is detected in its earliest, most treatable stage.  With early detection, melanoma (a potentially fatal skin cancer) has a high cure rate.

Vaccinations:  Getting vaccinated for the human papillomavirus (HPV) and hepatitis B can reduce one's risk of developing several different types of cancers.

Regular medical care:  Receiving regular medical care - physicals, check ups and routine blood work - increases the likelihood that cancers can be detected early.

Other ways of reducing your risk of cancer include staying physically active, avoiding tobacco, limiting your consumption of alcohol and limiting exposure to ultraviolet rays from the sun and tanning beds.  Maintaining a healthy weight and a diet high in fresh fruits and vegetables will also reduce the risk of some forms of cancer.

And healthier people are more likely to respond well to treatment if they are diagnosed with cancer, are more likely to catch it early and probably have a more positive outlook if they are diagnosed with cancer.

That's why Awareness and Outreach are critical - many of us know that October is breast cancer awareness month or that pro athletes wear pink in support of breast cancer research.  And there is more information than ever on lesser known, preventable cancers, like Melanoma Monday (the first Monday in May) to encourage people to get regular skin checks, skin cancer screenings and assess their sun exposure.

And if a doctor fails to order a screening test for cancer, ignores a test that would have diagnosed cancer, or doesn't communicate the test results to another doctor, hospital, or the patient, he or she should be accountable.  Because a basic patient safety rule - for any doctor, hospital or HMO - is get all the necessary information before making a potentially life or death decision.