Can­cer Facts

Breast cancer is the most common cancer occurring in women, and the second most common cause of death from cancer in women after lung cancer. In 2015, approximately 231,840 women in the United States will be diagnosed with breast cancer. An estimated 40,290 women with breast cancer will die of the disease this year.

The breast is comprised mainly of fatty tissue. Within this tissue is a network of lobes, which are made up of tiny, tube-like structures that contain milk glands. Tiny ducts connect the glands, lobules, and lobes and carry the milk from the lobes to the nipple, located in the middle of the areola (darker area that surrounds the nipple of the breast). Blood and lymph vessels run throughout the breast; blood nourishes the cells, and the lymph system drains bodily waste products.

About 90% of all breast cancers occur in the ducts or lobes, with almost 75% of all breast cancers beginning in the cells lining the milk ducts. These cancers are called ductal carcinomas. Cancers that begin in the lobules are called lobular carcinoma and are found in both breasts in approximately 30% of cases.

Risk Factors

  • Gender. Breast cancer occurs nearly 100 times more often in women than in men.
  • Race or ethnicity. It has been noted that white women develop breast cancer slightly more often than African-American women. However, African-American women tend to die of breast cancer more often. This is may be partly due to the fact that African-American women often develop a more aggressive type of tumor, although why this happens is not known. The risk for developing breast cancer and dying from it is lower in Hispanic, Native American, and Asian women.
  • Aging. Two out of three women with invasive cancer are diagnosed after age 55.
  • Personal history of breast cancer
  • Previous breast irradiation
  • Family history and genetic factors. Having a close relative, such as a mother or sister, with breast cancer increases the risk. This includes changes in certain genes such as BRCA1, BRCA2, and others.
  • Benign breast disease. Women with certain benign breast conditions (such as hyperplasia or atypical hyperplasia) have an increased risk of breast cancer.
  • Dense breast tissue. Breast tissue may look dense or fatty on a mammogram. Older women with dense breast tissue are at increased risk.
  • Diethylstilbestrol (DES) exposure. Women who took this drug while pregnant (to lower the chance of miscarriage) are at higher risk. The possible effect on their daughters is under study.
  • Early menstrual periods. Women whose periods began early in life (before age 12) have a slightly higher risk of breast cancer.
  • Late menopause. Women are at a slightly higher risk if they began menopause later in life (after age 55).

Colorectal cancer is cancer of the colon, rectum, anus, and appendix. It is when a polyp (growth) becomes cancerous in the bottom of the colon. It can be caused by a number of different factors.

Colorectal Cancer is the second-leading cause of cancer-related deaths in the United States. Colon cancer is both highly avoidable and curable through preventative and curative measures. A healthy diet (low in red meat and fat and high in fruits, vegetables, fiber and calcium), exercise, drinking in moderation and avoiding tobacco are the known elements that help prevent colon cancer.

Risk Factors

People with the highest chances of being diagnosed with colorectal cancer are people that have a family history of colorectal cancer, people that smoke, drink, or have a diet full of red meat and fat.


Colorectal cancer usually causes no symptoms in its early stages. It begins in a benign polyp that has existed in the colon for many years in its harmless state before changing to a cancer. Thus, most colorectal cancers can be prevented by removing the polyps before they become cancerous, by a procedure called colonoscopy.

Approximately 24,000 new cases of gastric cancer are diagnosed each year in this country, and there are about 700,000 new cases diagnosed worldwide.

In the United States, over the past few decades, there has been a drop in the frequency of distal gastric cancer, that is, gastric cancer located toward the intestine. However, proximal gastric cancer, or that toward the esophagus, and GE junction cancer has been on the increase. Also, the age of onset has been dropping.

The survival rate for gastric cancer varies based on how advanced the disease has become. When cancer is detected early, the survival rate 5 years after diagnosis ranges from 10% to 50%. Once distant parts of the body have become involved, the 5-year rate drops to almost zero.

Risk Factors

  • Age: The incidence of gastric cancer increases gradually with increasing age. People in their sixties have the highest occurrence.
  • Gender: Gastric cancer is more common among men than women.
  • Race: There is a higher incidence of gastric cancer among African Americans than Caucasians.
  • Diet: Frequency of gastric cancer may be associated with high intakes of dried, salted foods.
  • Medical factors: Gastric cancer is more common among individuals with histories of the following conditions: pernicious anemia, atrophic gastritis (Menetrier’s disease), intestinal polyps (noncancerous mushroom-shaped growths), previous gastric cancer.
  • Infection by Heliobacter pylori: This species of bacteria is related to stomach ulcers, yet ulcers themselves do not seem to be associated with gastric cancer.
  • Smoking: There is a higher risk of gastric cancer among smokers than among nonsmokers.

Several types of cancer can develop in the kidneys. Renal cell carcinoma (RCC), the most common form, accounts for approximately 85% of all cases. In RCC, cancerous cells develop in the lining of the kidney’s tubules and grow into a mass. In most cases, a single tumor develops, although more than one tumor can develop within one or both kidneys. Early diagnosis of kidney cancer is important. As with most types of cancer, the earlier the tumor is discovered, the better a patient’s chances for survival. Tumors discovered at an early stage often respond well to treatment. Survival rates in such cases are high. Tumors that have grown large, or spread through the bloodstream or lymphatic system to other parts of the body, are more difficult to treat and present an increased risk for mortality.

According to the National Cancer Institute, the highest incidence of kidney cancer occurs in the United States, Canada, Northern Europe, Australia, and New Zealand. The lowest incidence is found in Thailand, China, and the Philippines.

In the United States, kidney cancer accounts for approximately 3% of all adult cancers. According to the American Cancer Society, about 32,000 new cases are diagnosed and about 12,000 people die from the disease annually. Kidney cancer occurs most often in people between the ages of 50 and 70, and affects men almost twice as often as women.

Lung cancer is the uncontrolled growth of abnormal cells in one or both of the lungs. While normal lung tissue cells reproduce and develop into healthy lung tissue, these abnormal cells reproduce rapidly and never grow into normal lung tissue. Lumps of cancer cells then form and disrupt the lung, making it difficult to function properly.

Risk Factors

More than 87% of lung cancers are smoking related. Quitting smoking reduces an individual’s risk significantly, although former smokers remain at greater risk for lung cancer than people who never smoked. Exposure to other carcinogens such as asbestos and radon gas also increases an individual’s risk, especially when combined with smoking.


  • Smoker’s cough that persists or becomes intense
  • Persistent chest, shoulder, or back pain unrelated to pain from coughing
  • Non-smoker’s cough that persists for more than two weeks; wheezing
  • Recurrent pneumonia or bronchitis
  • Blood in sputum
  • Increase in volume of sputum or change in color of sputum
  • Fatigue
  • Loss of appetite
  • Headache, bone pain, aching joints
  • Bone fractures not related to accidental injury
  • Neurological symptoms
  • Neck and facial swelling
  • Unexplained weight loss

Prostate cancer occurs when cells within the prostate grow uncontrollably, creating small tumors. The term “cancer” refers to a condition in which the regulation of cell growth is lost and cells grow uncontrollably. Most cells in the body are constantly dividing, maturing, and then dying in a tightly controlled process. Unlike normal cells, the growth of cancer cells is no longer well-regulated. Instead of dying as they should, cancer cells outlive normal cells and continue to form new, abnormal cells.

Abnormal cell growths are called tumors. The term “primary tumor” refers to the original tumor; secondary tumors are caused when the original cancer spreads to other locations in the body. Prostate cancer typically is comprised of multiple very small, primary tumors within the prostate. At this stage, the disease is often curable (rates of 90% or better) with standard interventions such as surgery or radiation that aim to remove or kill all cancerous cells in the prostate. Unfortunately, at this stage the cancer produces few or no symptoms and can be difficult to detect.

Risk Factors

No single cause of prostate cancer has been identified. There are likely a variety of causes and contributing factors that lead to prostate cancer. The major known risk factors for prostate cancer are age, race, and family history. Although there are no conclusive data, diet and other environmental factors may play a role as well.

There are 3 main types of skin cancer: basal cell and squamous cell carcinoma, which are referred to as nonmelanoma skin cancer, and melanoma. Melanoma is the rarest and most serious form of the disease. The epidermis is made up of squamous cells, basal cells, and melanocytes. Melanocytes are the cells from which melanoma begins to develop. They are found throughout the lower part of the epidermis. They produce melanin, the pigment that gives skin its natural color. When melanoma starts in the skin, the disease is called cutaneous melanoma. Melanoma may also occur in the eye and is called intraocular or ocular melanoma.

Basal cell carcinoma and squamous cell carcinoma (nonmelanoma skin cancer) are the most common forms of skin cancer. The number of new cases of skin cancer appears to be increasing each year. The number of deaths due to non melanoma skin cancer, however, is fairly small.

Risk Factors

  • Unusual moles.
  • Exposure to natural sunlight, including sunburns during childhood.
  • Exposure to artificial ultraviolet light.
  • Family or personal history of melanoma.
  • Red or blond hair.
  • White or light-colored skin and freckles.
  • Blue eyes.

Cancer is a disease in which certain body cells don’t function right, divide very fast, and produce too much tissue that forms a tumor. Cancer of the uterus is cancer in the womb. There are different types of uterine cancers. Two types are endometrial cancer and uterine sarcomas. In the United States, endometrial cancer is a common cancer of the female reproductive system. This type of cancer happens when cancer begins in the tissue lining the uterus (endometrium). Uterine sarcomas occur when cancer grows in the muscles or other supporting tissues in the uterus. Uterine sarcomas account for only a small portion of cancers of the uterus.

Risk Factors

Studies have found the following risk factors:

  • Age. Cancer of the uterus occurs mostly in women over age 50.
  • Endometrial hyperplasia. The risk of uterine cancer is higher if a woman has endometrial hyperplasia.
  • Hormone replacement therapy (HRT). HRT is used to control the symptoms of menopause, to prevent osteoporosis, and to reduce the risk of heart disease or stroke.