10 cancer facts that may surprise you


Posted: September 29, 2019 | Word Count: 594

There are more than 100 types of cancer that impact people of all backgrounds. It's likely that cancer has touched you or someone close to you. There is a lot to know about cancer and its effects on people in the United States and around the world. How many of these 10 cancer facts do you know?

  1. Cancer is prevalent: In 2019, there will be an estimated 1.7 million new cancer cases diagnosed in the U.S., according to the American Cancer Society (ACS). What's more, approximately 39 out of 100 women and men will develop some form of cancer in their lifetime.
  2. Skin cancer is the most common cancer for women and men: For women, the next most common cancers are breast cancer, lung cancer and colorectal cancer. For men, the next most common cancers are prostate cancer, lung cancer and colorectal cancer.
  3. Most cancer patients will receive radiation therapy: About two-thirds of all cancer patients will receive radiation therapy as part of their treatment, according to the American Society for Radiation Oncology (ASTRO). Radiation therapy, or radiotherapy, is the use of various forms of radiation to treat cancer and other diseases. Radiation therapy has been an effective cancer treatment for more than 100 years.
  4. Some cancers are preventable: Not using tobacco is the single best way a person can prevent cancer from developing. Many cases of skin cancer could be prevented by protecting the skin from the sun’s ultraviolet radiation and indoor tanning devices. Taking action like avoiding tobacco and getting immunizations against cancer-causing infections can help protect you.
  5. Radiation therapy destroys cancer cell DNA: Radiation therapy works by damaging the DNA within cancer cells, destroying their ability to reproduce and causing the cells to die. When the damaged cancer cells are destroyed by radiation, the body naturally eliminates them. Normal cells can be affected by radiation, but they can repair themselves in a way cancer cells cannot.
  6. Survival rates are increasing: The five-year relative survival rate for all cancers is 69 percent, which means that 69 percent of all patients diagnosed with cancer survive beyond year five. Treatment advances and earlier diagnosis for some cancers have contributed to the improved survival rates. Some cancers, such as prostate and breast, can have more than a 90% five-year survival rate if diagnosed early.
  7. Radiation therapy can cure some cancers: When used as part of a cancer treatment plan, radiation therapy can destroy tumors that have not spread to other parts of the body. It can also reduce the risk that the cancer will return after surgery or chemotherapy, or shrink the cancer before surgery, notes ASTRO.
  8. Tobacco use is the most preventable cause of death in the U.S.: About 30% of all cancer deaths are caused by smoking, notes the ACS. Cigarette smoking increases the risk of at least 12 cancers: oral cavity and pharynx, larynx, lung, esophagus, pancreas, uterine cervix, kidney, bladder, stomach, colorectum, liver and myeloid leukemia.
  9. Screening is available for some cancers: The benefits of screening for some cancers such as breast, lung, colorectal, and cervical, may outweigh the potential risks for select, at-risk people. The U.S. Preventative Services Task Force is responsible for all consumer screening recommendations.
  10. Radiation therapy can be external or internal: With external radiation, a machine directs the high-energy waves at the cancer and some of the healthy tissue surrounding it. When internal radiation is used, a radiation source can be delivered by an intravenous injection or by inserting radioactive pellets or wires directly into the tumor. Learn more at RTanswers.org.

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