According to the American Cancer Society, about 1.7 million Americans are diagnosed with cancer each year. Cancer is the second most common cause of death in the United States, causing about one out of every four deaths. Individuals may be more prone to certain types of cancer based on factors such as gender and age. These risks may be increased or decreased depending on the individual’s lifestyle habits and genetics.
Rates of Cancer Affecting Both Genders
Skin cancer is the most commonly diagnosed type of cancer in the United States, but most types of skin cancer are highly curable. Melanoma is the exception to this, but only about five percent of all skin cancer diagnoses are melanoma. About one in five Americans will develop skin cancer, but most will survive. Skin cancer can affect patients at any age, but light skin and exposure to ultraviolet light greatly increase the risk of developing skin cancer.
Lung cancer is the type of cancer that kills the highest number of patients each year, accounting for about 28 percent of all male deaths and 26 percent of all female deaths from cancer. Although the rate of cancer development and death rate for lung cancer is slightly higher for men than for women at this time, being male does not necessarily increase the risk for developing lung cancer. Smoking and age are the highest relative factors in development of lung cancer. Although not all lung cancer patients are current or previous smokers, the rate is much higher and the curability is much lower for those that smoke or have been smokers. Almost 70 percent of all people diagnosed with lung cancer are over the age of 65.
Colon and rectal cancers and melanoma are also relatively indiscriminant between numbers of women and numbers of men that are diagnosed, accounting for about nine percent of cancer diagnosis and cancer deaths for both men and women. Melanoma is one of the most common types of cancer for people between the ages of 15 and 29, but the majority of patients that are diagnosed with melanoma over the age of fifty. The risk of developing melanoma, like all skin cancers, is increased by exposure to ultraviolet light. The risk of developing melanoma is doubled for patients that have had more than five sunburns. Woman are more likely to develop melanoma before age 40, men are more likely to develop melanoma after age 40.
About 90 percent of patients that are diagnosed with colon and rectal cancers are over the age of fifty, but these cancers have been known to affect patients of all ages. Incidences of colon and rectal cancer in patients over the age of fifty have been on a steady decline, while incidences of younger patients with colon or rectal cancer have been increasing. This may be linked to differences in eating habits and obesity, as these are both contributing factors to development of colon and rectal cancer.
Rates of Cancer Affecting Men
Prostate cancer is the type of cancer that kills the most men every year, second to lung cancer. Prostate cancer accounts for about 10 percent of all cancer deaths in men. More men are diagnosed with prostate cancer (about 28 percent of all male cancer diagnoses) than with lung cancer, but rates of curability are much better for prostate cancer than for lung cancer. All men are at risk for prostate cancer, but this risk increases with age. About 70 percent of men that are diagnosed with prostate cancer are over the age of 65. Although this risk continues to increase as the patient ages, the disease seems to be less aggressive in most cases where the patient is over the age of 80. The likelihood of developing prostate cancer is increased substantially if the patient has a family history of the disease.
Rates of Cancer Affecting Women
Breast cancer is the type of cancer that kills the most women each year, second to lung cancer. As with prostate cancer, more women are diagnosed with breast cancer (about 29 percent of all female cancer diagnoses), but preventative screenings and advances in treatment make survival rates much higher for breast cancer patients than for lung cancer patients. The risk of developing breast cancer increases with age. Family history of the disease, alcohol use, and obesity are lifestyle factors that may increase the risk of breast cancer. Men may develop breast cancer, but the occurrence of breast cancer in men is dramatically less than for women.
Ovarian cancer accounts for only about three percent of all new cases diagnosed, but is highly deadly, killing more than half of all women that are diagnosed. All women are at risk for developing ovarian cancer, but the risk is increased after the age of 50. There are currently no screening tests for ovarian cancer, so it is rarely caught in early stages.
Rates of Cancer in children
While the risk of developing most cancers increases with age, certain cancers primarily affect children:
- Wilms tumor
- Certain types of bone cancer
- Certain types of brain tumors and central nervous system cancers
Approximately 10,000 children in the United States are diagnosed with cancer each year. Leukemias are the most common type of cancer in children, accounting for about 31 percent of all pediatric cancers. These cancers affect the bone marrow and blood. Inherited disorders, immune system problems, and exposure to toxins like radiation while in the womb may contribute to the development of all types of childhood cancers. The survival rate for all types of pediatric cancers is about 80 percent.
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