The Leading Types of Cancer in America

The Leading Types of Cancer in America
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Cancer is a serious illness. With no cure and many fatalities it touches almost everyone’s life one way or another. While some forms of cancer are very dangerous, often because of trouble with early detection, others are being successfully treated at much better rates because of early screening and greater awareness of prevention methods.

According to the National Cancer Institute the most common type of cancer in the U.S. is lung cancer, with an estimated 222,520 new cases in 2010. While technically skin cancer has the highest actual number of new diagnoses each year by far (about one million), the less serious forms of this disease, basal cell carcinoma and squamous cell carcinoma, are excluded as they are relatively easy to treat and are non-life threatening. Leading types of cancer in America today are lung, prostate, breast, colorectal, and bladder.

Lung Cancer Facts

Lung cancer is a serious and much too common illness. It is primarily caused by smoking — as many as 80% of cases are due to smoking. Other risk factors include second-hand smoke, alcohol consumption, exposure to chemicals and environmental pollutants, marijuana use, a history of lung problems, and a deficiency of or an excess of vitamin A.

The most common sign of this form of cancer is persistent coughing. This is a particularly deadly type of cancer. While there are an estimated 222,520 new cases for the year, there are also 157,300 deaths expected. Detection before the cancer has spread to the lymph nodes is a huge factor in curability.

Prostate Cancer Facts

Prostate cancer comes in a close second with 217,730 new cases expected. This is the leading form of this disease in America for men. Unlike lung cancer, prostate cancer has a much lower fatality rate. There are only 32,050 deaths expected. This is partially due to early detection — according to the American Cancer Society once men reach age forty they should have an annual screening exam; this is not a bad idea.

Possible symptoms include pain or a burning sensation during urination, frequent urination, a decrease in urine flow, blood in the urine, and lower back or pelvic discomfort.

Breast Cancer Facts

There are 207,090 expected new cases of breast cancer for women, just under 2,000 for men. As with prostate cancer, efforts to promote early detection have resulted in much lower fatality rates. There are less than 40,000 expected deaths from breast cancer for women and less than 400 for men.

The cause of breast cancer is unknown, although it is believed that estrogen may have something to do with the start of a cancerous growth in many cases. Potential risk factors include menstruation before age nine, menopause after age fifty-five, and not having any children, or having them after age forty. Heredity is also a big risk factor.

Colorectal Cancer Facts

Colorectal cancer is a term used to refer to both cancer of the colon and cancer of the rectum. The colon and the rectum make up the large intestine. 142,570 new diagnoses of both types combined are expected, as well as 51,370 deaths. Efforts at early screening and removal of polyps (about 10% of the American population has polyps by age fifty, if left alone, they can become cancerous) has improved curability rates.

Although signs do not really appear until later stages, possible symptoms include rectal bleeding, changes to bowel movements, weight loss, persistent abdominal pain or bloating, and unusual fatigue. Family history and a history of polyps are major risk factors, as well as excessive constipation, excessive diarrhea, a diet high in saturated fats, and an accumulation of toxins in the colon.

Bladder Cancer Facts

Bladder cancer was the fifth leading cause of American cancer deaths a few years ago. Today, it ranks fifth in terms of estimated new cases, but the fatality rate is much lower. There are 70,530 estimated new cases, but only 14,680 estimated deaths. Leukemia, pancreatic cancer, and non-hodgkin lymphoma all have more estimated deaths.

Bladder cancer risk factors include smoking, exposure to certain chemicals, and chronic urinary tract infections. As with the other cancers, early symptoms are uncommon. The most prominent warning sign is blood in the urine. Painful, increased, or difficult urination may also be indicative of bladder cancer.

Cancer Prevention

The leading types of cancer in the U.S. are dangerous and way too prevalent in today’s society. It is important to keep in mind that early fruitdetection is often the key to survival — in many cases the disease can be successfully treated if it is addressed before the tumor is too large or has spread.

Also, being aware of risk factors throughout your life will go a long way in preventing cancer. Eat a diet high in fruits, vegetables, whole grains, nuts, and seeds. Drink lots of water, green tea, and herbal teas. Cut back on red meat, cow’s milk cheeses, and all processed and refined foods.

And if you think that there is any chance that you are experiencing symptoms, don’t hesitate to make an appointment. The urgency may save your life.


National Cancer Institute

Balch, Phyllis A. " Prescription for Nutritional Healing." Fourth Edition (Penguin Books, 2006).

photo by: (CC/flickr)

photo by: David Masters (CC/flickr)