The United States’ National Cancer Institute reports that over 1,500,000 cases of cancer are diagnosed annually in the US alone, and according to the World Health Organization, cancer causes around 8 million deaths globally each year. This grim statistic means that if you live long enough, it’s almost inevitable that you or someone you know will get cancer at some point during your life. However, even with statistics like these staring us in the face, many people still don’t take the time to research what types of cancer pose the biggest risk to their health and ultimately their lives.
Cancer is an epidemic
In 2011, there were more than 13 million new cancer cases reported and over 7.6 million deaths worldwide, making it one of only four causes of death on the rise in developed countries. The good news is that cancer rates are dropping slightly — but one person still dies every minute from cancer worldwide. Even worse, many cancers are preventable with lifestyle changes (or even vaccinations). Still, with 50 percent of cancer diagnoses tied to bad habits like smoking or poor diet choices, prevention often takes a backseat to treatment — and many of us neglect our health anyway.
The top 10 deadliest cancers
When it comes to cancer, no two cases are alike. Whether you’re talking about a rare form of brain cancer or just an average Joe’s bladder cancer, every diagnosis has its own unique set of factors that go into it. Some are more likely to get worse than others; some might not even be treatable at all. These ten cancers are responsible for killing a ton of people each year around the world and even though there’s already a lot of research dedicated to these ailments, no one knows for sure what causes them (although smoking definitely makes them worse). Here is our list of the top ten deadliest cancers.
1. Lung Cancer (Non-Small Cell, Small Cell, and Squamous Cell)
According to The American Cancer Society, Lung cancer is caused by too much exposure to cigarette smoke and environmental pollution. It accounts for 24% of all cancer deaths in both men and women combined. Every year, over 158,000 people die from lung cancer in the US alone. Other names include: Non-Small Cell Lung Cancer (NSCLC), Small Cell Lung Cancer (SCLC), Large Cell Lung Carcinoma (LCC). NSCLC used to be called smoker’s lung because it only affected smokers; however, recent studies have shown that non-smokers are at risk as well.
2. Breast Cancer
According to estimates by The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, more than 253,000 new cases of invasive breast cancer will be diagnosed among women in 2012, with more than 40,000 estimated deaths from breast cancer. It is a common type of malignant neoplasm that originates from cells within breast tissue; most tumors are benign. The majority (90% to 95%) are hormone receptor-positive (estrogen receptor- and/or progesterone receptor-positive), meaning they depend on hormones for growth. Tumors can also be either positive or negative for human epidermal growth factor receptors 2 and 3 (HER2/neu). About 5% to 10% of all breast cancers occur in men.
3. Prostate Cancer
This type of cancer is typically found in adults age 50 and older. In 2015, an estimated 141,500 Americans will be diagnosed with colon or rectal cancer and 51,000 will die from it. Although colorectal cancer is more common among adults over 65, it can strike at any age. Colorectal cancers are also commonly called bowel cancers because they most often occur in either your colon or your rectum (the last part of your digestive tract). Your risk for colorectal cancer depends on a number of factors such as your family history, diet and lifestyle choices like smoking and drinking.
4. Colorectal Cancer
Colon cancer is said to be one of deadliest cancers. It’s usually found when people go for a colonoscopy or other similar procedures. With treatment, there is a chance that you can beat it and not have to worry about getting it again, but if it isn’t caught quickly enough then things don’t look so great. And if you end up dying from colorectal cancer then there was almost certainly nothing you could have done to avoid it since most cases are hereditary. In order to help prevent and fight off cancer, try eating healthy, exercising regularly and getting yearly checkups. You can also eat foods that will improve your immune system as well as vitamins that are great for you such as Vitamin A, vitamin E and omega-3 fatty acids.
5. Stomach Cancer
The second most common form of cancer, gastrointestinal cancer accounts for more than 6 percent of all new cancer cases and 15 percent of cancer deaths worldwide. In 2012, an estimated 992,500 new cases were diagnosed and 761,000 people died from stomach cancer. There are two main types: gastric adenocarcinoma and intestinal-type stomach carcinoma. The leading risk factors include aging (the median age at diagnosis is 72), Helicobacter pylori infection, chronic inflammation (associated with excessive alcohol consumption or cigarette smoking), inadequate intake of fruit and vegetables, high salt intake and abdominal obesity. The prognosis for stomach cancer has improved dramatically over time because treatment options are better; but most patients don’t survive more than five years after diagnosis.
6. Liver Cancer
The American Cancer Society estimates that 23,430 new cases of liver cancer will be diagnosed in 2013. The five-year survival rate is just 15%. Liver cancer can develop from a number of conditions, including chronic hepatitis B and hepatitis C infections. Obesity is also a leading risk factor for liver cancer, as well as cirrhosis of the liver. Cirrhosis causes irreversible scarring of the organ, which can eventually cause it to fail. There are screening tests for people at high risk for liver cancer; if you’re worried about your risk, talk to your doctor about getting tested.
Cancer starts with a mutation in one of your white blood cells that doesn’t know how to stop growing. The reason you don’t feel sick right away is because most of your body’s WBCs are dividing to keep up with your needs. This is why doctors focus on finding cancer early and making sure it hasn’t spread—it usually won’t cause symptoms until that happens. Leukemia is incurable, but there are several treatments available, including chemotherapy, radiation therapy and bone marrow transplants. A type of leukemia called Acute Lymphoblastic Leukemia (ALL) accounts for 30 percent of all childhood cancers and 75 percent of cases appear by age 3.
8. Pancreatic Cancer
The fourth most common cause of cancer-related death in both men and women, pancreatic cancer affects approximately 46,000 people each year. The disease is far more deadly than it should be; only about 6 percent of patients diagnosed with pancreatic cancer live for five years or longer after diagnosis. A combination of early detection methods and improvements to treatment could help address some of these numbers, but new treatments have lagged behind for decades because there’s been no clear understanding of what causes pancreatic cancer.
9. Bladder Cancer
This form of cancer affects a woman’s uterus and is often referred to as uterine carcinoma. It can also be caused by complications such as fibroids or polyps. The most common symptoms include abnormal vaginal bleeding, abdominal pain and discomfort, back pain, and pelvic pressure or fullness. Around 50 percent of women diagnosed with uterine cancer are younger than 50 years old. According to estimates from 2015, about 454,000 women were diagnosed with uterine cancer worldwide. There is no single cause for uterine cancer but factors like family history, obesity and hormonal factors can increase your risk of developing it. Fortunately, there are many treatments available that make recovery possible even if it has spread beyond your uterus to other organs in your body.
10. Uterine Cancer
There are several types of uterine cancer, but endometrial cancer is responsible for 90 percent of all cases. When detected early, endometrial cancer has a five-year survival rate of 92 percent. The five-year survival rate drops to 72 percent when detected later in its progression, however. The most common symptoms of uterine cancer include: abnormal vaginal bleeding or spotting; postmenopausal bleeding; pelvic pain and pressure; abdominal swelling or bloating; constipation and indigestion; back pain and difficulty urinating.
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