Cancer is a many-faced beast. It can affect nearly any part of the human body, and it typically leaves only devastation in its wake. However, with the many technological advancements made in the medical fields, we as a society have become more adept at combatting the various forms of cancer, though some with more success than others.
So how does a cancer become known as “common”?
What is the most common type of cancer? And how effective are treatments against these common cancers? Well, as with anything in the medical field, the answers are somewhat complicated.
What Is a Common Cancer?
According the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, the National Institute of Health, and the National Cancer Institute, an estimated annual incidence for the present year has to be more than 40,000 cases in order to qualify as a “common cancer.”
Excluding nonmelanoma skin cancers, the most common types of cancer are of the following sort: bladder, breast, colon and rectal, endometrial (affecting the uterus), kidney, leukemia (affecting blood cells), lung, melanoma, non-Hodgkin lymphoma (affecting lymphocytes in the immune system), pancreatic, prostate, and thyroid.
Each type of these common cancers can be treated with varying levels of success. However, knowing which cancers are most common give researchers a better idea of where to focus their attention in order to better combat the most serious and pervading cancer forms.
What Is the Most Common Cancer?
The answer to this question depends on a person’s sex. The most prevalent type of cancer is breast cancer, which most commonly affects women, though men are not excluded entirely. It easily passes the 40,000 threshold to be considered a common cancer with an expected 249,000 new cases occurring in the United States in 2016.
The breakdown of the figure between women and men is 246,660 and 2,600, respectively. Of those anticipated to be found to have breast cancer, 40,450 women and 440 men are expected to die from it in 2016. This shows that treatment for breast cancer is significantly more successful than treatments of other cancers, such as the next most common type of cancer, that of the lung.
Lung (including bronchus) cancer is estimated to be found in 224,390 people in 2016, and in 158,080 of whom the cancer will prove fatal. These statistics are significant not only because they will affect the most people if you omit predominantly sex-based cancers (e.g., breast and prostate cancers) but also because they indicate a survival rate of hovering around 50 percent, which is extremely high when compared with breast cancer’s near 15 percent expected fatality rate.
The third most common type of cancer is exclusive to men: Prostate cancer Almost 181,000 cases are expected to surface throughout 2016. However, it has a comparable fatality rate comparable to breast cancer, making it one of the most treatable forms of cancer. With a projected 70,000 less expected cases than breast cancer, the prostate cancer statistic shows just how much more common breast cancer is than all the other cancer incarnations.
How Is Breast Cancer Diagnosed and Treated?
Although the effectiveness of frequent breast screenings is debated, they can often be the first step in diagnosing breast cancer, as they can alert a physician to the need for further testing.
Also Read: Define Melanoma Skin Cancer And Causes
Because no two cancer patients are alike, there are many different ways breast cancer can manifest itself and therefore be diagnosed. Some tests may take place after the first biopsy. Others may be performed even after lumpectomy (removal of cancer from breast) or mastectomy (removal of all breast tissue), which are two popular treatment options.
These tests are performed in order to gain an understanding of how the cancer looks and behaves under various conditions, and this information shapes a patient’s unique pathology report, which provides key information such as size and shape of the cancer, how quickly it grows, whether it has or will spread to healthy tissues, and what may be the cause of the cancer growth (such as hormones or genetic mutations.
In addition to the two procedures mentioned above as treatment options, radiation and chemotherapy treatments are often utilized, depending on the stage in which the cancer is. These treatments can take a serious toll on the patient’s body and spirit and should be discussed thoroughly with a trained physician.
Although breast cancer is the most common type of cancer, there are means of prevention, some of which include limiting alcohol intake and smoking, control weight gains, remaining active, breast-feeding offspring instead of relying on formula, and avoiding radiation or other pollution.