Common types of cancer

Kinds of Cancer

CDC provides basic information and statistics about some of the most common cancers in the United States.

Bladder Cancer

Bladder cancer risk factors include smoking, genetic mutations, and exposure to certain chemicals.

Breast Cancer

Getting mammograms regularly can lower the risk of dying from breast cancer. Talk to your doctor about when to start and how often to get a screening mammogram.

Cervical Cancer

Cervical cancer is highly preventable in most Western countries because screening tests and a vaccine to prevent human papillomavirus (HPV) infections are available.

Colorectal Cancer

If you are 50 years old or older, get screened. Screening tests can help prevent colorectal cancer or find it early, when treatment works best.

Gynecologic Cancers

Five main types of cancer affect a woman’s reproductive organs: cervical, ovarian, uterine, vaginal, and vulvar. As a group, they are referred to as gynecologic cancers.

Head and Neck Cancers

Cancers of the head and neck include cancers that start in several places in the head and throat, not including brain cancers or cancers of the eye.

Kidney Cancer

Smoking is the most important risk factor for kidney and renal pelvis cancers. To lower your risk, don’t smoke, or quit if you do.

Liver Cancer

To lower your risk for liver cancer, get vaccinated against Hepatitis B, get tested for Hepatitis C, and avoid drinking too much alcohol.

Lung Cancer

Lung cancer is the leading cause of cancer death in the United States. The most important thing you can do to lower your lung cancer risk is to quit smoking and avoid secondhand smoke.

Lymphoma

Lymphoma is a general term for cancers that start in the lymph system. The two main kinds of lymphoma are Hodgkin lymphoma and non-Hodgkin lymphoma.

Myeloma

Myeloma is a cancer of the plasma cells. In myeloma, the cells grow too much, forming a mass or tumor in the bone marrow.

Ovarian Cancer

Ovarian cancer causes more deaths than any other cancer of the female reproductive system. But when ovarian cancer is found early, treatment works best.

Prostate Cancer

Most prostate cancers grow slowly and don’t cause any health problems in men who have them. Learn more and talk to your doctor before you decide to get tested or treated for prostate cancer.

Skin Cancer

Skin cancer is the most common cancer in the United States. To lower your skin cancer risk, protect your skin from the sun and avoid indoor tanning.

Thyroid Cancer

To lower the risk of thyroid cancer, avoid unnecessary exposure to radiation, including radiation from medical imaging procedures, especially in young children and around the head and neck.

Uterine Cancer

Uterine cancer is the most common cancer of the female reproductive system.

Vaginal and Vulvar Cancers

Vaginal and vulvar cancers are rare, but all women are at risk for these cancers.

Know the Most Common Types of Cancer

It’s estimated that more than 11 million people in the United States have some form of cancer. There are more than 200 different types of cancer, although many are quite rare. The following are the 10 most commonly diagnosed cancer types in 2009 and the estimated number of cancer patients affected by each:

  1. Non-melanoma skin cancer. Affecting more than 1 million people a year, skin cancer can form in the skin cells on any part of the body, though most commonly on skin that’s been exposed to the sun. There are several types of skin cancers, including squamous cell skin cancer, found in the flat cells on the top of the skin, and basal cell skin cancer, found in the round cells deeper inside skin’s outer layer. Most commonly, skin cancer affects older people or people who have a compromised immune system.
  2. Lung cancer. Roughly 219,440 cases of this deadly cancer were diagnosed in 2009. Lung cancer strikes the cells inside the lining of the lungs. There are two primary types of lung cancer — small cell and non-small cell lung cancer. Lung cancer claims nearly 160,000 lives annually.
  3. Breast cancer. This type of cancer will affect 194,280 people in 2009. This is by far the most common cancer in women, says Len Lichtenfeld, MD, deputy chief medical officer for the American Cancer Society. While the overwhelming majority of breast cancer patients are women, about 1,900 cases are diagnosed in men each year.
  4. Prostate cancer. Just over 192,200 cases of prostate cancer are diagnosed annually. Dr. Lichtenfeld says that this is the most common cancer to affect men, most often men over age 50. The prostate gland is a part of the reproductive system in men and is found at the base of the bladder, near the rectum. This type of cancer develops in the tissues inside the prostate gland.
  5. Colorectal cancer. There will be about 146,970 new cases of colon and rectal cancers combined in 2010. The colon is part of the large intestine, which helps to break down and digest food, and the rectum is the end of the large intestine that is nearest the anus.
  6. Bladder cancer. Nearly 71,000 people will receive this diagnosis in 2010. The bladder can be affected by cancer cells that develop within its tissues. The most common type is transitional cell carcinoma, but others, such as adenocarcinomas and squamous cell carcinomas, may also occur, depending on which bladder cells are involved.
  7. Melanoma. Predicted to strike close to 68,720 people, melanoma is another type of skin cancer. It forms in the skin’s melanocyte cells, which produce the brown pigment melanin. Because melanoma occurs in skin that contains a lot of pigment, it frequently begins in moles. Melanoma may also be found in other pigmented parts of the body, like the intestines or even the eyes.
  8. Non-Hodgkin lymphoma. Affecting 65,980 people, this is the term for a number of different but related cancers involving white blood cells, or lymphocytes. This type of cancer is frequently characterized by swollen lymph nodes, fevers, and weight loss. People of any age can develop non-Hodgkin lymphoma. There are many different types of non-Hodgkin lymphoma that affect different cells and parts of the body, with varying prognoses and treatment.
  9. Kidney cancer. Kidney cancer is diagnosed in more than 49,000 people each year. The kidneys are the organs that help to excrete waste from the body in the form of urine. Cancer can form inside the tissues or ducts of the kidneys. Although kidney cancer develops mainly in people over 40, one type of kidney tumor usually affects young children.
  10. Leukemia. Approximately 44,790 cases of leukemia were predicted for 2009. The four main types of leukemia are acute myeloid leukemia, acute lymphocytic leukemia, chronic lymphocytic leukemia, and chronic myeloid leukemia. These types of cancer often form inside the bone marrow or other cells and tissues that form blood cells, and are known as blood cancers. Leukemia results in overproduction of certain kinds of white blood cells, which then circulate in the bloodstream. Leukemia can be chronic — a slow-growing type of cancer that begins without symptoms — or acute, meaning the cells can’t function normally and symptoms progress rapidly. It affects both adults and children, and kills more children under age 20 than any other cancer.

Other types of cancer that are important to mention include pancreatic, endometrial (uterine), thyroid, and sarcomas, each of which affects fewer than 43,000 people annually.

Cancer

Cancer is a generic term for a large group of diseases that can affect any part of the body. Other terms used are malignant tumours and neoplasms. One defining feature of cancer is the rapid creation of abnormal cells that grow beyond their usual boundaries, and which can then invade adjoining parts of the body and spread to other organs, the latter process is referred to as metastasizing. Metastases are a major cause of death from cancer.

The problem

Cancer is a leading cause of death worldwide, accounting for an estimated 9.6 million deaths in 2018. The most common cancers are:

The most common causes of cancer death are cancers of:

  • Lung (1.76 million deaths)
  • Colorectal (862 000 deaths)
  • Stomach (783 000 deaths)
  • Liver (782 000 deaths)
  • Breast (627 000 deaths)

What causes cancer?

Cancer arises from the transformation of normal cells into tumour cells in a multistage process that generally progresses from a pre-cancerous lesion to a malignant tumour. These changes are the result of the interaction between a person’s genetic factors and 3 categories of external agents, including:

  • physical carcinogens, such as ultraviolet and ionizing radiation;
  • chemical carcinogens, such as asbestos, components of tobacco smoke, aflatoxin (a food contaminant), and arsenic (a drinking water contaminant); and
  • biological carcinogens, such as infections from certain viruses, bacteria, or parasites.

WHO, through its cancer research agency, International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC), maintains a classification of cancer-causing agents.

Ageing is another fundamental factor for the development of cancer. The incidence of cancer rises dramatically with age, most likely due to a build-up of risks for specific cancers that increase with age. The overall risk accumulation is combined with the tendency for cellular repair mechanisms to be less effective as a person grows older.

Risk factors for cancers

Tobacco use, alcohol use, unhealthy diet, and physical inactivity are major cancer risk factors worldwide and are also the 4 shared risk factors for other noncommunicable diseases.

Some chronic infections are risk factors for cancer and have major relevance in low- and middle-income countries. Approximately 15% of cancers diagnosed in 2012 were attributed to carcinogenic infections, including Helicobacter pylori, Human papillomavirus (HPV), Hepatitis B virus, Hepatitis C virus, and Epstein-Barr virus3.

Hepatitis B and C virus and some types of HPV increase the risk for liver and cervical cancer, respectively. Infection with HIV substantially increases the risk of cancers such as cervical cancer.

Reducing the cancer burden

Between 30–50% of cancers can currently be prevented by avoiding risk factors and implementing existing evidence-based prevention strategies. The cancer burden can also be reduced through early detection of cancer and management of patients who develop cancer. Many cancers have a high chance of cure if diagnosed early and treated adequately.

Modify and avoid risk factors

Modifying or avoiding key risk factors can significantly reduce the burden of cancer. These risk factors include:

  • tobacco use including cigarettes and smokeless tobacco
  • being overweight or obese
  • unhealthy diet with low fruit and vegetable intake
  • lack of physical activity
  • alcohol use
  • sexually transmitted HPV-infection
  • infection by hepatitis or other carcinogenic infections
  • ionizing and ultraviolet radiation
  • urban air pollution
  • indoor smoke from household use of solid fuels.

Tobacco use is the single most important risk factor for cancer and is responsible for approximately 22% of cancer-related deaths globally2.

Pursue prevention strategies

To prevent cancer, people may:

  • increase avoidance of the risk factors listed above;
  • vaccinate against HPV and hepatitis B virus;
  • control occupational hazards;
  • reduce exposure to ultraviolet radiation;
  • reduce exposure to ionizing radiation (occupational or medical diagnostic imaging).

Vaccination against these HPV and hepatitis B viruses could prevent 1 million cancer cases each year3.

Early detection

Cancer mortality can be reduced if cases are detected and treated early. There are 2 components of early detection:

Early diagnosis

When identified early, cancer is more likely to respond to effective treatment and can result in a greater probability of surviving, less morbidity, and less expensive treatment. Significant improvements can be made in the lives of cancer patients by detecting cancer early and avoiding delays in care.

Early diagnosis consists of 3 steps that must be integrated and provided in a timely manner:

  • awareness and accessing care
  • clinical evaluation, diagnosis and staging
  • access to treatment.

Early diagnosis is relevant in all settings and the majority of cancers. In absence of early diagnosis, patients are diagnosed at late stages when curative treatment may no longer be an option. Programmes can be designed to reduce delays in, and barriers to, care, allowing patients to access treatment in a timely manner.

Screening

Screening aims to identify individuals with abnormalities suggestive of a specific cancer or pre-cancer who have not developed any symptoms and refer them promptly for diagnosis and treatment.

Screening programmes can be effective for select cancer types when appropriate tests are used, implemented effectively, linked to other steps in the screening process and when quality is assured. In general, a screening programme is a far more complex public health intervention compared to early diagnosis.

Examples of screening methods are:

  • visual inspection with acetic acid (VIA) for cervical cancer in low-income settings;
  • HPV testing for cervical cancer;
  • PAP cytology test for cervical cancer in middle- and high-income settings; and
  • mammography screening for breast cancer in settings with strong or relatively strong health systems.

Treatment

A correct cancer diagnosis is essential for adequate and effective treatment because every cancer type requires a specific treatment regimen that encompasses one or more modalities such as surgery, radiotherapy, and chemotherapy. Determining the goals of treatment and palliative care is an important first step, and health services should be integrated and people-centred. The primary goal is generally to cure cancer or to considerably prolong life. Improving the patient’s quality of life is also an important goal. This can be achieved by supportive or palliative care and psychosocial support.

Potential for cure among early detectable cancers

Some of the most common cancer types, such as breast cancer, cervical cancer, oral cancer, and colorectal cancer have high cure rates when detected early and treated according to best practices.

Potential for cure of some other cancers

Some cancer types, even when cancerous cells have traveled to other areas of the body, such as testicular seminoma and leukaemias and lymphomas in children, can have high cure rates if appropriate treatment is provided.

Palliative care

Palliative care is treatment to relieve, rather than cure, symptoms caused by cancer and improve the quality of life of patients and their families. Palliative care can help people live more comfortably. It is an urgent humanitarian need for people worldwide with cancer and other chronic fatal diseases and particularly needed in places with a high proportion of patients in advanced stages of cancer where there is little chance of cure.

Relief from physical, psychosocial, and spiritual problems can be achieved in over 90% of advanced cancer patients through palliative care.

Palliative care strategies

Effective public health strategies, comprising of community- and home-based care are essential to provide pain relief and palliative care for patients and their families in low-resource settings.

Improved access to oral morphine is mandatory for the treatment of moderate to severe cancer pain, suffered by over 80% of cancer patients in terminal phase.

WHO response

In 2017, the World Health Assembly passed the resolution Cancer Prevention and Control through an Integrated Approach (WHA70.12) urges governments and WHO to accelerate action to achieve the targets specified in the Global Action Plan and 2030 UN Agenda for Sustainable Development to reduce premature mortality from cancer.

  • WHA70.12: Cancer prevention and control in the context of an integrated approach
  • Global action plan for the prevention and control of NCDs 2013-2020

WHO and IARC collaborate with other UN organizations within the UN Interagency Task Force on the Prevention and Control of Noncommunicable Diseases and partners to:

  • increase political commitment for cancer prevention and control;
  • coordinate and conduct research on the causes of human cancer and the mechanisms of carcinogenesis;
  • monitor the cancer burden (as part of the work of the Global Initiative on Cancer Registries);
  • identify “best buys” and other cost-effective, priority strategies for cancer prevention and control;
  • develop standards and tools to guide the planning and implementation of interventions for prevention, early diagnosis, screening, treatment and palliative and survivorship care including for childhood cancers;
  • strengthen health systems at national and local levels to deliver cure and care for cancer patients including improving access to cancer treatments;
  • set the agenda for cancer prevention and control in the Global Report on Cancer;
  • provide global leadership as well as technical assistance to support governments and their partners build and sustain high-quality cervical cancer control programmes through the UN Global Joint Programme on Cervical Prevention and Cancer;

provide technical assistance for rapid, effective transfer of best practice interventions to countries.

(1) Ferlay J, Soerjomataram I, Ervik M, Dikshit R, Eser S, Mathers C et al. GLOBOCAN 2012 v1.0, Cancer Incidence and Mortality Worldwide: IARC CancerBase No. 11
Lyon, France: International Agency for Research on Cancer; 2013.

(2) GBD 2015 Risk Factors Collaborators. Global, regional, and national comparative risk assessment of 79 behavioural, environmental and occupational, and metabolic risks or clusters of risks, 1990-2015: a systematic analysis for the Global Burden of Disease Study 2015. Lancet. 2016 Oct; 388 (10053):1659-1724.

(4) Stewart BW, Wild CP, editors. World cancer report 2014
Lyon: International Agency for Research on Cancer; 2014.

(5) Global Initiative for Cancer Registry Development. International Agency for Research on Cancer
Lyon: France.

The 20 Most Common Types of Cancer

In 2017, according to American Cancer Society research, nearly 601,000 Americans died of cancer—or, put another way, just short of 1,650 people daily. Among causes of death in the United States, cancer is surpassed only by heart disease. What’s more, recent estimates indicate that about 15 million Americans are living with some form of cancer today. It’s a sobering thought—that few among us are no more than a degree or two of separation from someone living with a malignant, life-threatening, indiscriminately deadly condition. To call it an epidemic wouldn’t be a hyperbolic statement.

Not all of the news is so grim, however. Over the past 30-odd years, the medical community has made significant progress. Thanks to technological advancements and the proliferation of progressive treatments, the relative survival rate—which is defined as people who survive for five or more years after diagnosis—has increased about 20 percent across the board, bringing the figure up to 68 percent. All told, that amounts to more than 2 million fewer cancer deaths than figures from the late 1990s. And for certain cancers (prostate, thyroid), the rate hovers around the 99 percent mark. In short, when it comes to beating cancer, our society is undeniably on the up-and-up.

Still, it’s good to keep some perspective; though certainly less common, the disease is still out there, ravaging. What follows is a list, per World Cancer Research Fund International data, of the most common types of cancer in the world. (All figures are from 2012, the latest year for which full data is available.) And to increase your chances of dodging the disease altogether, be sure to avoid the 20 Everyday Habits That Increase Your Cancer Risk.

1 Lung

New diagnoses (2012): 1,825,000

Percent of cancer cases (global): 13

Despite a precipitous drop in smoking rates, lung cancer is still the deadliest. According to the American Cancer Society, about a third of the 600,000 U.S. cancer deaths can be directly linked to cigarette smoking. The single best thing you can do to prevent lung cancer—and this warrants repeating ad infinitum—is to quit. For good.

2 Breast

New diagnoses (2012): 1,677,000

Percent of cancer cases (global): 11.9

You’re significantly more likely to develop breast cancer if you’re a woman; less than 1 percent of new diagnoses of breast cancer are for men. To help prevent the disease, learn the 40 Ways to Prevent Breast Cancer After 40.

3 Colorectum

New diagnoses (2012): 1,361,000

Percent of cancer cases (global): 9.7

Your risk of developing colorectum—or colon, as it’s more colloquially referred—skyrockets after you turn 50. If you experience frequent, serious stomach pain or start seeing sudden changes in your bowel movements, visit your doctor.

4 Prostate

New diagnoses (2012): 1,112,000

Percent of cancer cases (global): 7.9

In certain cases of prostate cancer, according to the Mayo Clinic, the disease “may not cause serious harm.” However, if you experience any difficulty peeing or spot even a speck of blood in your semen, it’s time to get checked out. For more on the disease, read about exactly what it’s like to live with it day-to-day.

5 Stomach

New diagnoses (2012): 952,000

Percent of cancer cases (global): 9.7

Also known as gastric cancer, this condition can fly under the radar for years. But if there’s a sudden onset of severe indigestion, inexplicable nausea, or irrepressible heartburn, that may be a bad sign.

6 Liver

New diagnoses (2012): 782,000

Percent of cancer cases (global): 5.6

Liver cancer, though frightfully common, is more preventable than other types of cancer. According to the American Cancer Society, “excess alcohol consumption” is a leading cause of the condition. If you’re at all concerned about your alcohol consumption, See What Your Drinking Habits Say About Your Health.

7 Cervix uteri

New diagnoses (2012): 528,000

Percent of cancer cases (global): 3.7

Cervix uteri, or cervical, cancer can occur in women as young as 14 years old, and is caused by, among other factors, four strains of the human papillomavirus (HPV). Be sure to get all three of your HPV vaccine shots—and to get regular PAP smears.

8 Oesophagus

New diagnoses (2012): 456,000

Percent of cancer cases (global): 3.2

Among smoking-related cancers, lung cancer is the most common. Oesophagus cancer—also known more commonly as esophageal carcinoma—is a close second. Again, quit smoking.

9 Bladder

New diagnoses (2012): 430,000

Percent of cancer cases (global): 3.1

More men than women are diagnosed with bladder cancer, but the condition afflicts folks of all genders—typically in middle-age and older adults, though. If you experience blood in your pee, it’s time to see a doctor.

10 Non-Hodgkin lymphoma

New diagnoses (2012): 386,000

Percent of cancer cases (global): 2.7

Non-Hodgkin lymphoma occurs when cancerous cells attack your body’s lymphatic system, or the part of your immune system that helps combat infections. Many symptoms—a persistent cough, regular stomach pain, rapid weight fluctuation—are symptoms of other conditions, so, to determine if you’re afflicted, it’s best to undergo a lymph node exam.

11 Leukemia

New diagnoses (2012): 352,000

Percent of cancer cases (global): 2.5

Leukemia, also known as blood cancer, afflicts people of all ages; indeed, though highly unusual, people can even be born with it. (Thankfully, according to the folks at the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute, it’s highly treatable and even curable with aggressive treatment.) Since leukemia can take on many different forms—acute or chronic, myelogenous or lymphocyctic, and that just scratches the surface—it’s tough to diagnose. Generally, an initial blood test can give insight as to whether you have it or not.

12 Kidney

New diagnoses (2012): 338,000

Percent of cancer cases (global): 2.4

Kidney cancer and pancreatic cancer are, per the most recently available figures, equally common. Unlike other cancers, which can be treated through radiation and chemotherapy, kidney cancer is typically treated via surgical removal of malignant tumors in the kidney—or, in extreme cases, of the entire organ.

13 Pancreatic

New diagnoses (2012): 338,000

Percent of cancer cases (global): 2.4

Pancreatic cancer most commonly occurs in elderly people. But if you experience sudden-onset diabetes (and have no family history for diabetes) or experience recurring abdominal pain that radiates to your spine, either could be a sign of pancreatic cancer.

14 Corpus uteri

New diagnoses (2012): 320,000

Percent of cancer cases (global): 2.3

According to the Welsh Cancer Intelligence and Surveillance Unit, the cause of corpus uteri, or endometrial, cancer is largely unknown. However, women who are 50 and older, overweight, and have high blood pressure are at increased risk.

15 Lip/Oral

New diagnoses (2012): 300,000

Percent of cancer cases (global): 2.1

Remember when we mentioned “ad infinitum?” Once more: Quit smoking.

16 Thyroid

New diagnoses (2012): 298,000

Percent of cancer cases (global): 2.1

Your thyroid is responsible for producing the triiodothyronine (T3) and thyroxine (T4), two hormones that control everything from how your metabolism functions to how balanced your libido is. Thyroid cancer doesn’t show signs early on, so, if you suddenly feel a lump on your neck—or if you’ve gone hoarse for seemingly no reason and have trouble swallowing—consult your doctor.

17 Brain

New diagnoses (2012): 256,000

Percent of cancer cases (global): 1.8

There are more than a dozen forms of brain cancer. Some types, like glioblastoma—which adheres directly into brain tissue, and thus can never be completely removed—are more dangerous than others. Though brain cancer can affect people of all ages, older adults are more at risk than those from other age groups.

18 Ovarian

New diagnoses (2012): 239,000

Percent of cancer cases (global): 1.7

Ovarian cancer is terrifying in its insidiousness; many of the symptoms—bloating, random weight loss, pelvic discomfort, increased need for urination—are symptomatic of other, less serious conditions. As such, many cases go undiagnosed until the disease reaches later stages.

19 Melanoma (skin)

New diagnoses (2012): 232,000

Percent of cancer cases (global): 1.6

Melanoma, the most dangerous form of skin cancer, according to the Skin Cancer Foundation, is most often caused by continued to exposure to ultraviolet radiation—whether through a tanning bed or a day too many on the beach. Of the diagnosed cases, there’s a roughly 50-50 split between noninvasive (sticks to the top layer of the skin) and invasive (penetrates multiple layers) forms of the disease. For more insight into the disease, learn the 20 Skin Cancer Symptoms Everyone Needs to Know.

20 Gallbladder

New diagnoses (2012): 178,000

Percent of cancer cases (global): 1.3

Gallbladder cancer, according to the American Cancer Society, generally doesn’t display symptoms until the disease has progressed into later stages. There, you may notice increasingly itchy skin, darker urine, and abdominal pain on the upper-right part of your belly. Your doctor might also be able to diagnose the disease by feeling around your abdomen for lumps (which are caused by cancer-blocked bile ducts).

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Deadliest, Most Common Cancers Get the Least Attention in U.S.

Written by Karen Selby, RN

Cancer is one of the top five leading causes of death in the U.S.

The American Cancer Society estimates 1.7 million new cases will be diagnosed and more than 600,000 people will die of the disease in 2019.

Americans across the nation are responding to these alarming numbers, but the public and federal government are focusing their concerns — and donations — on cancers getting the most publicity, not the ones killing the most people.

For example, breast cancer organizations in 2015 received more than $460 million in donations, according to a 2015 study in the Journal of the National Comprehensive Cancer Network. While charities that raise funds for lung cancer, which kills more people in the U.S. than breast cancer, received $92 million that same year.

That’s why it’s important for you to start learning about the deadliest cancers, so you can make a more informed decision when it comes to choosing which cancer organizations you will financially support.

Read on to learn more about:

  • Which cancers concern Americans the most?

  • What does the data show about cancer mortality rates?

  • Which cancer charities are the most and least funded?

Breast Cancer Tops List of Most Worrisome Cancers

After surveying 1,000 Americans, The Mesothelioma Center at Asbestos.com found the majority of respondents are most concerned about breast cancer. Based on the amount of media attention breast cancer receives every year, it makes sense that Americans are more aware of breast cancer than any other type of cancer.

Breast cancer is one of the most publicized types of cancer; it’s also the second most frequently diagnosed cancer in the U.S., with a total of 271,270 estimated new cases in 2019. This may help explain why it’s one of the most widely known cancers among Americans.

After breast cancer, Americans are most concerned about prostate and colon cancer. Prostate cancer is the second leading cause of cancer death in men, with an estimated 164,690 new cases in 2019. Colon cancer comes is third, and it’s among the most common types of cancers, with an estimated 145,600 yearly cases in 2019.

Lung cancer, the second most common type of cancer, has an estimated 228,150 new cases in 2019, and pancreatic cancer has an estimated 56,770 new cases in 2019.

We also found that gender plays a significant role in which cancers concern Americans most. According to our survey, men are most concerned with prostate cancer, whereas women claimed to be most concerned with breast cancer.

Interestingly, only 15% of men and women claimed they were most concerned about lung cancer.

Americans’ Cancer Concerns Misaligned with Mortality Rates

What types of cancer are the deadliest? According to the American Cancer Society, lung cancer — and lung cancer caused by asbestos — is the number one killer, with 142,670 estimated deaths in 2019 alone, making it three times deadlier than breast cancer. Despite this, only 14% of respondents said they were most concerned about lung cancer.

The second and third deadliest cancers are colorectal cancer and pancreatic cancer, respectively. Breast cancer, which will claim an estimated 42,260 lives in 2019, is the fourth deadliest.

According to these figures, breast cancer, which has a much smaller mortality rate compared to lung or colon cancer, is the one Americans fear and support the most.

Lung Cancer: Deadliest and Least Funded

Which cancer charities and foundations secure the most funding?

It’s difficult to track exactly how much money charities accrue annually from donations and grants because there are so many organizations that raise money for every type of cancer.

For example, Reuters covered a similar survey that analyzed the annual revenue of 119 cancer organizations, totaling $5.98 billion. More than three-quarters of that income went to general cancer charities that don’t focus on a specific type of disease.

To get a broader sense of which cancer organizations rack up the most donations, we researched the most funded charities for each type of cancer according to Charity Navigator, the largest charity evaluator in the U.S. with data on over 1.8 million nonprofits.

According to Charity Navigator, the following charities are the most funded for each type of cancer:

On a federal level, cancers that affect Americans the most have less funding allocated toward research than other types of cancers. For example, lung cancer — the deadliest cancer to date — receives less funding per death than prostate, colon, pancreatic and breast cancer combined.

Based on these figures, the most common types of cancers receive ample funding and media attention, but there are many other cancers that don’t. For example, mesothelioma has approximately 3,000 diagnosed cases per year.

As an asbestos-related cancer, mesothelioma patients have an average life expectancy of 12 to 22 months after diagnosis, yet it receives a lot less funding than other types of cancer.

While it’s great to support any type of cancer, consider contributing to underfunded cancer charities to potentially save a life or help further breakthroughs in treatments and research. If you’re interested in finding a new cancer charity to donate your money, start by researching which types of cancers are the most underfunded.

From there, you can explore the types of initiatives the organizations offer and how much of their annual donations, gifts and grants are allocated for research. You’ll be glad to know your money is being used wisely.

Methodology:
This study consisted of one survey question conducted using Google Surveys. The sample consisted of no less than 1,000 completed responses. Post-stratification weighting has been applied to ensure an accurate and reliable representation of the total population. The survey ran during August 2019.

The dread and fear that can come with a cancer diagnosis have their roots in its killer nature: It’s the No. 2 cause of death in Americans, second only to heart disease, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Even when diagnosed early and attacked with the latest treatments, it still has the power to kill.

To help raise money to find cures and treatments for cancer patients, the “Stand Up to Cancer” telethon will air on ABC, NBC and CBS and other networks and cable stations starting at 8 p.m. ET tonight. The telethon will feature a host of celebrity guests, including George Clooney, Denzel Washington, Renee Zellweger and Will Smith.

“‘Stand Up To Cancer’ represents collaborative efforts” to provide funding for cancer research, Dr. Len Lichtenfeld, deputy chief medical officer of the American Cancer Society, told MyHealthNewsDaily.

“We would not be where we are if basic and clinical science wasn’t funded,” Lichtenfeld said. “Basic science teaches us about mechanisms, about how drugs may be effective, and we take that info and put it into a clinic to find out whether or not those new ideas work in cancer treatment.”

While there are many successful treatments today that didn’t exist just a couple decades ago, a wholesale “cure for cancer” remains elusive for many reasons. There are more than 100 types of cancer, characterized by abnormal cell growth. There are many different causes, ranging from radiation to chemicals to viruses; an individual has varying degrees of control over exposure to cancer-causing agents.

Cancer cells, and how they grow, remain unpredictable and in some cases mysterious. Even after seemingly effective treatments, crafty cancer cells are able to hide out in some patients and resurface.

About $200 billion has been spent on cancer research since the early 1970s, and the five-year survival rate for all people diagnosed with cancer in the U.S. has risen from about 50 percent in the 1970s to 65 percent today.

Here’s a look at the 10 cancers that killed the most people in the United States between 2003 and 2007, the most recent data available, according to the National Cancer Institute (NCI).

1. Lung and bronchial cancer: 792,495 lives Lung and bronchial cancer is the top killer cancer in the United States. Smoking and use of tobacco products are the major causes of it, and it strikes most often between the ages of 55 and 65, according to the NCI. There are two major types: non-small cell lung cancer, which is the most common, and small cell lung cancer, which spreads more quickly. More than 157,000 people are expected to die of lung and bronchial cancer in 2010.

2. Colon and rectal cancer:268,783 lives Colon cancer grows in the tissues of the colon, whereas rectal cancer grows in the last few inches of the large intestine near the anus, according to the National Cancer Institute. Most cases begin as clumps of small, benign cells called polyps that over time become cancerous. Screening is recommended to find the polyps before they become cancerous, according to the Mayo Clinic. Colorectal cancer is expected to kill more than 51,000 people in 2010.

3. Breast cancer: 206,983 lives Breast cancer is the second most common cancer in women in the United States, after skin cancer, according to the Mayo Clinic. It can also occur in men – there were nearly 2,000 male cases between 2003 and 2008. The cancer usually forms in the ducts that carry milk to the nipple or the glands that produce the milk in women. Nearly 40,000 people are expected to die from breast cancer in 2010, according to the NCI.

4. Pancreatic cancer: 162,878 lives Pancreatic cancer begins in the tissues of the pancreas, which aids digestion and metabolism regulation. Detection and early intervention are difficult because it often progressives stealthily and rapidly, according to the Mayo Clinic. Pancreatic cancer is expected to claim nearly 37,000 lives in 2010, according to the NCI.

5. Prostate cancer: 144,926 lives This cancer is the second-leading cause of cancer deaths in men, after lung and bronchial cancer, according to the NCI. Prostate cancer usually starts to grow slowly in the prostate gland, which produces the seminal fluid to transport sperm. Some types remain confined to the gland, and are easier to treat, but others are more aggressive and spread quickly, according to the Mayo Clinic. Prostate cancer is expected to kill about 32,000 men in 2010, according to the NCI.

6. Leukemia: 108,740 lives There are many types of leukemia, but all affect the blood-forming tissues of the body, such as the bone marrow and the lymphatic system, and result in an overproduction of abnormal white blood cells, according to the NCI. Leukemia types are classified by how fast they progress and which cells they affect; a type called acute myelogenous leukemia killed the most people – 41,714 – between 2003 and 2007. Nearly 22,000 people are expected to die from leukemia in 2010.

7. Non-Hodgkin lymphoma: 104,407 lives This cancer affects the lymphocytes, a type of white blood cell, and is characterized by larger lymph nodes, fever and weight loss. There are several types of non-Hodgkin lymphoma, and they are categorized by whether the cancer is fast- or slow-growing and which type of lymphocytes are affected, according to the NCI. Non-Hodgkin lymphoma is deadlier than Hodgkin lymphoma, and is expected to kill more than 20,000 people in 2010.

8. Liver and intrahepatic bile duct cancer: 79,773 lives Liver cancer is one of the most common forms of cancer around the world, but is uncommon in the United States, according to the Mayo Clinic. However, its rates in America are rising. Most liver cancer that occurs in the U.S. begins elsewhere and then spreads to the liver. A closely related cancer is intrahepatic bile duct cancer, which occurs in the duct that carries bile from the liver to the small intestine. Nearly 19,000 Americans are expected to die from liver and intrahepatic bile duct cancer in 2010, according to the NCI.

9. Ovarian cancer: 73,638 lives Ovarian cancer was the No. 4 cause of cancer death in women between 2003 and 2007, according to the NCI. The median age of women diagnosed with it is 63. The cancer is easier to treat but harder to detect in its early stages, but recent research has brought light to early symptoms that may aid in diagnosis, according to the Mayo Clinic. Those symptoms include abdominal discomfort, urgency to urinate and pelvic pain. Nearly 14,000 women are expected to die of ovarian cancer in 2010, according to the NCI.

10. Esophageal cancer: 66,659 lives This cancer starts in the cells that line the esophagus (the tube that carries food from the throat to the stomach) and usually occurs in the lower part of the esophagus, according to the Mayo Clinic. More men than women died from esophageal cancer between 2003 and 2007, according to the NCI. It is expected to kill 14,500 people in 2010.

  • 10 Tips for Avoiding Cancer
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This article was provided by MyHealthNewsDaily, a sister site to LiveScience.

Cells are the building blocks of every living thing — from tomatoes to ladybugs to salmon to people. The instructions that tell a cell what to do are in genes within the center of the cell. Those genes are made of DNA (deoxyribonucleic acid). DNA can change or be damaged over time. Some DNA changes are harmless, but others can cause disease. Cancer cells are “born” when abnormal changes in DNA tell cells to grow faster and behave differently than they should. As these cancer cells multiply to form a tumor, they continue to change — becoming more and more different from each other.

As a cancer grows, new and different types of breast cancer cells are created within that same cancer. The mixture of cells that builds up over time becomes more and more complex. So even though every cell of a cancer is related to the same original “parent” cell, all the cells that make up a cancer are not the same. The idea that different kinds of cells make up one cancer is called “tumor heterogeneity.”

By the time a breast cancer tumor is one centimeter (less than half an inch), the millions of cells that make up the lump are very different from each other. And each cancer has its own genetic identity, or fingerprint, created by the DNA in its cells. So two people with breast cancer who are the same age, height, weight, and ethnicity, and who have similar medical histories, almost surely have two very different cancers. The only thing the cancers have in common is that they started from a breast tissue cell.

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Last modified on November 5, 2015 at 9:55 AM

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What Is Cancer?

Types of Cancer

There are more than 100 types of cancer. Types of cancer are usually named for the organs or tissues where the cancers form. For example, lung cancer starts in cells of the lung, and brain cancer starts in cells of the brain. Cancers also may be described by the type of cell that formed them, such as an epithelial cell or a squamous cell.

You can search NCI’s website for information on specific types of cancer based on the cancer’s location in the body or by using our A to Z List of Cancers. We also have collections of information on childhood cancers and cancers in adolescents and young adults.

Here are some categories of cancers that begin in specific types of cells:

Carcinomas are the most common type of cancer. They are formed by epithelial cells, which are the cells that cover the inside and outside surfaces of the body. There are many types of epithelial cells, which often have a column-like shape when viewed under a microscope.

Carcinomas that begin in different epithelial cell types have specific names:

Adenocarcinoma is a cancer that forms in epithelial cells that produce fluids or mucus. Tissues with this type of epithelial cell are sometimes called glandular tissues. Most cancers of the breast, colon, and prostate are adenocarcinomas.

Basal cell carcinoma is a cancer that begins in the lower or basal (base) layer of the epidermis, which is a person’s outer layer of skin.

Squamous cell carcinoma is a cancer that forms in squamous cells, which are epithelial cells that lie just beneath the outer surface of the skin. Squamous cells also line many other organs, including the stomach, intestines, lungs, bladder, and kidneys. Squamous cells look flat, like fish scales, when viewed under a microscope. Squamous cell carcinomas are sometimes called epidermoid carcinomas.

Transitional cell carcinoma is a cancer that forms in a type of epithelial tissue called transitional epithelium, or urothelium. This tissue, which is made up of many layers of epithelial cells that can get bigger and smaller, is found in the linings of the bladder, ureters, and part of the kidneys (renal pelvis), and a few other organs. Some cancers of the bladder, ureters, and kidneys are transitional cell carcinomas.

Soft tissue sarcoma forms in soft tissues of the body, including muscle, tendons, fat, blood vessels, lymph vessels, nerves, and tissue around joints.

Credit: Terese Winslow

Sarcomas are cancers that form in bone and soft tissues, including muscle, fat, blood vessels, lymph vessels, and fibrous tissue (such as tendons and ligaments).

Osteosarcoma is the most common cancer of bone. The most common types of soft tissue sarcoma are leiomyosarcoma, Kaposi sarcoma, malignant fibrous histiocytoma, liposarcoma, and dermatofibrosarcoma protuberans.

Our page on soft tissue sarcoma has more information.

Cancers that begin in the blood-forming tissue of the bone marrow are called leukemias. These cancers do not form solid tumors. Instead, large numbers of abnormal white blood cells (leukemia cells and leukemic blast cells) build up in the blood and bone marrow, crowding out normal blood cells. The low level of normal blood cells can make it harder for the body to get oxygen to its tissues, control bleeding, or fight infections.

There are four common types of leukemia, which are grouped based on how quickly the disease gets worse (acute or chronic) and on the type of blood cell the cancer starts in (lymphoblastic or myeloid).

Our page on leukemia has more information.

Lymphoma is cancer that begins in lymphocytes (T cells or B cells). These are disease-fighting white blood cells that are part of the immune system. In lymphoma, abnormal lymphocytes build up in lymph nodes and lymph vessels, as well as in other organs of the body.

There are two main types of lymphoma:

Hodgkin lymphoma – People with this disease have abnormal lymphocytes that are called Reed-Sternberg cells. These cells usually form from B cells.

Non-Hodgkin lymphoma – This is a large group of cancers that start in lymphocytes. The cancers can grow quickly or slowly and can form from B cells or T cells.

Our page on lymphoma has more information.

Multiple Myeloma

Multiple myeloma is cancer that begins in plasma cells, another type of immune cell. The abnormal plasma cells, called myeloma cells, build up in the bone marrow and form tumors in bones all through the body. Multiple myeloma is also called plasma cell myeloma and Kahler disease.

Our page on multiple myeloma and other plasma cell neoplasms has more information.

Melanoma is cancer that begins in cells that become melanocytes, which are specialized cells that make melanin (the pigment that gives skin its color). Most melanomas form on the skin, but melanomas can also form in other pigmented tissues, such as the eye.

Our pages on skin cancer and intraocular melanoma have more information.

Brain and Spinal Cord Tumors

There are different types of brain and spinal cord tumors. These tumors are named based on the type of cell in which they formed and where the tumor first formed in the central nervous system. For example, an astrocytic tumor begins in star-shaped brain cells called astrocytes, which help keep nerve cells healthy. Brain tumors can be benign (not cancer) or malignant (cancer).

Our page on brain and spinal cord tumors in adults has more information, as does our overview of brain and spinal cord tumors in children.

Other Types of Tumors

Germ Cell Tumors

Germ cell tumors are a type of tumor that begins in the cells that give rise to sperm or eggs. These tumors can occur almost anywhere in the body and can be either benign or malignant.

Our page of cancers by body location/system includes a list of germ cell tumors with links to more information.

Neuroendocrine Tumors

Neuroendocrine tumors form from cells that release hormones into the blood in response to a signal from the nervous system. These tumors, which may make higher-than-normal amounts of hormones, can cause many different symptoms. Neuroendocrine tumors may be benign or malignant.

Our definition of neuroendocrine tumors has more information.

Carcinoid Tumors

Carcinoid tumors are a type of neuroendocrine tumor. They are slow-growing tumors that are usually found in the gastrointestinal system (most often in the rectum and small intestine). Carcinoid tumors may spread to the liver or other sites in the body, and they may secrete substances such as serotonin or prostaglandins, causing carcinoid syndrome.

Our page on gastrointestinal carcinoid tumors has more information.

Cancer is a group of more than 100 different diseases. It can develop almost anywhere in the body.

How cancer begins

Cells are the basic units that make up the human body. Cells grow and divide to make new cells as the body needs them. Usually, cells die when they get too old or damaged. Then, new cells take their place.

Cancer begins when genetic changes interfere with this orderly process. Cells start to grow uncontrollably. These cells may form a mass called a tumor. A tumor can be cancerous or benign. A cancerous tumor is malignant, meaning it can grow and spread to other parts of the body. A benign tumor means the tumor can grow but will not spread.

Some types of cancer do not form a tumor. These include leukemias, most types of lymphoma, and myeloma.

Doctors divide cancer into types based on where it begins. Four main types of cancer are:

  • Carcinomas. A carcinoma begins in the skin or the tissue that covers the surface of internal organs and glands. Carcinomas usually form solid tumors. They are the most common type of cancer. Examples of carcinomas include prostate cancer, breast cancer, lung cancer, and colorectal cancer.

  • Sarcomas. A sarcoma begins in the tissues that support and connect the body. A sarcoma can develop in fat, muscles, nerves, tendons, joints, blood vessels, lymph vessels, cartilage, or bone.

  • Leukemias. Leukemia is a cancer of the blood. Leukemia begins when healthy blood cells change and grow uncontrollably. The 4 main types of leukemia are acute lymphocytic leukemia, chronic lymphocytic leukemia, acute myeloid leukemia, and chronic myeloid leukemia.

  • Lymphomas. Lymphoma is a cancer that begins in the lymphatic system. The lymphatic system is a network of vessels and glands that help fight infection. There are 2 main types of lymphomas: Hodgkin lymphoma and non-Hodgkin lymphoma.

There are many other types of cancer. Learn more about these other types of cancer.

How cancer spreads

As a cancerous tumor grows, the bloodstream or lymphatic system may carry cancer cells to other parts of the body. During this process, the cancer cells grow and may develop into new tumors. This is known as metastasis.

One of the first places a cancer often spreads is to the lymph nodes. Lymph nodes are tiny, bean-shaped organs that help fight infection. They are located in clusters in different parts of the body, such as the neck, groin area, and under the arms.

Cancer may also spread through the bloodstream to distant parts of the body. These parts may include the bones, liver, lungs, or brain. Even if the cancer spreads, it is still named for the area where it began. For example, if breast cancer spreads to the lungs, it is called metastatic breast cancer, not lung cancer.

Watch a brief video about how cancer begins and spreads to other parts of the body.

Video used with permission from BioDigital Systems. Read a full-text transcript.

Diagnosing cancer

Often, a diagnosis begins when a person visits a doctor about an unusual symptom. The doctor will talk with the person about his or her medical history and symptoms. Then the doctor will do various tests to find out the cause of these symptoms.

But many people with cancer have no symptoms. For these people, cancer is diagnosed during a medical test for another issue or condition.

Sometimes a doctor finds cancer after a screening test in an otherwise healthy person. Examples of screening tests include colonoscopy, mammography, and a Pap test. A person may need more tests to confirm or disprove the result of the screening test.

For most cancers, a biopsy is the only way to make a definite diagnosis. A biopsy is the removal of a small amount of tissue for further study. Learn more about making a diagnosis after a biopsy.

Related Resources

  • Understanding Cancer Risk

  • When the Doctor Says Cancer

  • Stages of Cancer

Most Common Cancers in America

Although cancer takes many forms, there are four that claim the lives of over a quarter of a million Americans every year: breast, prostate, lung, and colon/rectum. It is estimated that around 827,000 new diagnoses for these cancer types will take place in 2014. This represents nearly 50% of new cancer diagnoses and nearly 49% of annual cancer deaths. Below you will find surveys of the four most common cancers; all demographic data and statistics come from the American Cancer Society’s Surveillance, Epidemiology, and End Results (SEER) Program.

Image via the American Cancer Society, Inc., Surveillance Research.

Starting as a small tumor in one of the lungs, if left untreated, lung cancer metastasizes, spreading to other parts of the body. Beyond this point, the chance of survival falls below 5%. In fact, lung cancer kills more Americans, both men and women, than the next three most common cancers combined. The cause is clear; smoking causes 80% to 90% of all new cases.

Demographics:

  • Incidence rate by sex: 72.2 men per 100,000; 51.1 women per 100,000
  • Average age of first diagnosis: 70
  • Notable facts: Black men are more likely to be diagnosed with and die from lung cancer than any other group, even if they are exposed to less cigarette smoke, on average, than white men. The chance of a lung cancer diagnosis is roughly equal for black women and white women.

Statistics:

  • Annual deaths
    • Raw number: 159,260
    • Percentage of total cancer deaths: 27.2%
  • 5 year survival rate: 16.8%

Risk factors: Smoking and exposure to second-hand smoke.

Screening/detection: The U.S. Preventative Task Force recommends yearly lung screening in adults 55 to 80 years old who have an extensive smoking history or who smoke currently. Survival rates increase dramatically if diagnosed early.

Treatment: Surgical removal is possible for early stage lung cancer. Chemotherapy and radiation therapy can be used at any stage and often accompany surgery.

Research: Researchers are working to identify the cellular properties that make some lung cancer cells resistant to treatment. So far, they’ve uncovered a protein that is critical to chemo-resistance, called DAPK3. If presence of this protein is regulated within the tumor cell, then the chances of recovery increase.

Usually originating in the milk ducts or milk glands, breast cancer affects hundreds of thousands of women in the U.S., killing about 40,000 each year. Survival rates, as with other cancers, increase dramatically if detected early. Over 98% of women survive five years if treatment starts while the cancer is localized.

Demographics:

  • Incidence rate by sex: 1.3 men per 100,000; 124.6 women per 100,000
  • Average age of first diagnosis: 61
  • Notable facts: African American women have the highest mortality rate from breast cancer overall, while Asian Americans have the lowest rate. Breast cancer is also slightly more common among women of Ashkenazi Jewish descent.

Statistics:

  • Annual deaths
    • Raw number: 40,000
    • Percentage of total cancer deaths: 6.8%
  • 5 year survival rate: 89.2%

Risk factors: Unlike skin or lung cancer, there are fewer clear risk factors with breast cancer. Family history and genetics play a leading role. Use of oral birth control, physical activity, and alcohol use have also been shown to have a minor impact on the likelihood of developing breast cancer.

Screening/detection: The American Cancer Society recommends that women 40 years and older get screened yearly with mammograms.

Treatment: Surgical removal is the most common treatment for breast cancer, often accompanied by radiation or chemotherapy.

Research: Researchers have isolated a number of genes that predispose a patient to breast cancer, including BRCA1 and BRCA2. Knowledge of these genes can help doctors to identify at-risk patients early in life, perform regular screenings and take other prevention measures.

While breast cancer nearly always affects women, prostate cancer exclusively affects men. It is especially common in older men and about 1 in 6 men can expect to receive a prostate cancer diagnosis during his lifetime. Fortunately, the vast majority of men diagnosed with prostate cancer do not die from it.

Demographics:

  • Incidence rate by sex: 147.8 men per 100,000; 0 women per 100,000
  • Average age of first diagnosis: 66
  • Notable facts: Black men are more likely to be diagnosed and die from prostate cancer than any other group; Asian and Pacific Islander men are the least likely.

Statistics:

  • Annual deaths
    • Raw number: 29,480
    • Percentage of total cancer deaths: 5%
  • 5 year survival rate: 98.9%

Risk factors: Age is the biggest risk factor — 65% of all prostate cancer diagnoses are in men older than 65. Family history, height, weight, and diet also play a role. Interestingly, where you live may also impact your likelihood of prostate cancer, men who receive less sunlight throughout their lives have a higher risk.

Screening/detection: The American Cancer Society suggests all men 50 years or older discuss screening options with their doctors. The survival rate is very high if prostate cancer is detected while still localized; however, it drops dramatically if it spreads to nearby lymph nodes.

Treatment: There are several treatments for prostate cancer, including surgical removal or radiation, hormone, and chemotherapy. Surgery is often used to remove early stage prostate cancer, while chemotherapy is used in later stages. Radiation therapy may be used at any stage.

Research: Prostate cancer research funded by the American Cancer Society include two primary approaches, reducing a healthy cell’s vulnerabilities to cancerous cells and then increasing a cell’s ability to respond to treatment. An example of the first is a the development of a drug that inhibits mTOR, a protein that can compromise the defenses of healthy cells and helps prostate cancer metastasize. Research from the second approach includes combating hormone therapy resistance in prostate cells.

Colorectal cancer is actually two kinds of cancer that affects either the colon or the rectum. However, because the two share many characteristics, they are often classified together. Usually starting as small malignant polyps, or growths, along the lining of the colon or rectum, colon cancer can then spread to other parts of the body.

Demographics

  • Incidence rate by sex: 50.6 men per 100,000; 38.2 women per 100,000
  • Average age of first diagnosis: 68
  • Notable facts: Men and women over 45 years old have a higher risk for colorectal cancer. Racially, black men and women are more likely to be diagnosed than other groups.

Statistics:

  • Annual deaths
    • Raw number: 50,310
    • Percentage of total cancer deaths: 8.6%
  • 5 year survival rate: 64.7%

Risk factors: Nobody is certain what causes colorectal cancer; however, several studies shed light on leading factors. Age is the leading cause; over 80% of all new cases occur in people 45 to 84 years old. Family history and diet have also been shown to affect risk levels.

Screening/detection: The U.S. Preventative Services Task Force recommends screenings starting at 50 years old for people of normal risk, usually through yearly fecal exams and a colonoscopy every five to ten years.

Treatment: Surgery is the most common treatment for rectal cancer, with radiation or chemotherapy often used before or after surgery. Occasionally, patients with rectal cancer require a permanent colostomy.

Research: The American Cancer Society is funding several research initiatives aimed at improving early detection, treatment and prevention methods for colon cancer. Work includes the investigation of the role of estrogen in suppression of colon tumor formation, identifying the proteins that stimulate the growth and metastasis of colon cancer cells and understanding the ways in which bacteria in the GI tract contribute to colorectal cancer.

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