Cancer is a word which evokes worry. Sadly, the statistics prove that worry as justified since cancer is a leading cause of death worldwide. Do you know what the most common types of cancer are and their characteristics? Read on to learn more about cancer and how to reduce your risk of developing it.
Most Common Types of Cancer
While there are a staggering range of cancer types, some rise to the top of the list as the most prevalent. These cancers have high rates of annual diagnoses in the United States and across the world each and every year, and unfortunately, many people succumb to their symptoms and related complications of cancer.
According to recent data, the most common types of cancer:
- Breast (including male and female patients), with 297,000-plus new cases per year
- Prostate, with 288,000-plus new cases per year
- Lung, with 238.000-plus new cases per year
- Colon (includes rectal cancers) with 153,000-plus new cases per year
What Are the Characteristics of Each of These Cancers?
Breast cancer can be unnoticeable for long periods of time. That’s why regular screening with mammography is so important to early detection, treatment and remission.
However, many times women (and men) can notice changes in their breast and surrounding tissue, particularly if they vigilantly do manual examinations at home and visually inspect their breasts regularly.
Signs to watch for are:
- Lumps or thicker areas of the breast or underarm tissue which lingers after menstruation
- A noticeable shift in breast size or shape
- Differences in skin color or texture
- Discharge of any color or consistency from the nipple
Prostate cancer is notorious for lack of noticeable symptoms in many men. So, regular PSA screening (a blood test to measure cancer markers) is advisable for middle-aged to senior men of average risk.
Noticeable prostate cancer characteristics are:
- Urinating frequently, particularly at night
- Experiencing pain or burning when urinating
- Urinary urgency
- Pain when ejaculating
- Pain in the lower back or hips
- Blood in semen or urine
Lung cancer is one of the stealthiest cancers, often showing non-specific symptoms or none at all until the disease has progressed. However, some people do show the following signs and symptoms:
- A persistent cough
- Shortness of breath
- Chest pain and tightness
- Weight loss which is unexplainable
Screening with CT scanning is recommended for people with a smoking history, even if they have quit the habit. Smoking history means a habit of 20 pack years or more (a pack a day for 20 years) or people who used to smoke but stopped 15 years ago or more.
All colon cancer begins as small, benign polyps within the lining of the bowel. Over time (usually about a decade or more), these growths can change into cancer.
However, in the meantime, many people have no symptoms of colon cancer whatsoever. Those who do notice symptoms have:
- Blood in their stool or on toilet tissue after a bowel movement
- Pain and discomfort in the abdomen
- Shortness of breath and extreme tiredness, likely related to anemia
- Weight loss
- Persistent nausea and vomiting
Can I Prevent Cancer, and How Can I Do It?
Cancer is preventable in many cases when the underlying causes are avoidable. Factors which contribute to prevention of a wide range of cancers are:
- No smoking
- Routine exercise
- A healthy, high-fiber, low-fat diet
- Keeping a healthy body weight
- Limiting alcohol
- Using sunscreen, wearing protective clothing and seeking shade to avoid UV exposure on the skin
- Following occupational hazard guidelines for radiation
Finally, healthcare providers must be committed to helping people have access to cancer screening services at the right time. For instance, colonoscopy screening for colon cancer should begin at age 45, or sooner if there is an inherited tendency to develop this potentially deadly malignancy.
Cancer Center Near Me in Sarasota, Florida
At Intercoastal Medical Group, our internal medicine doctors, family practice physicians and other specialty providers inform their patients about their risks of developing cancer, how to be screened and what symptoms they should watch out for. Also, our cancer center in Sarasota, FL, has experienced hematology oncologists on staff to help people with leukemia and other blood-related cancers.