It is becoming more and more likely that you or someone that you know will be diagnosed with some form of cancer in the future.
The rate of cancer cases has increased drastically over the past decade. Research suggests that there were 17.5 million cancer cases worldwide in 2015 and 8.7 million deaths. This is up from 14 million cases and 8.2 million deaths in 2012. Clearly, cancer is not going away anytime soon.
The Top 13 Most Common Types of Cancer
- The incidence of both non-melanoma and melanoma skin cancers has been increasing over the past decades. Currently, between 2 and 3 million non-melanoma skin cancers and 132,000 melanoma skin cancers occur globally each year. Sun exposure is the major cause. Melanoma accounts for less than one percent of skin cancer cases, but the vast majority of skin cancer deaths.
- Lung Cancer: Lung cancer is the leading cause of cancer-related deaths in the world. It has one of the lowest survival rates, claiming more than 1.5 million lives every year worldwide. There are various types of lung cancer but the most common is “non-small cell lung cancer.” The primary cause of lung cancer is smoking.
- Liver Cancer: This cancer took the lives of 788,000 people globally in 2015. As your body’s primary organ for filtration, you cannot live without your liver. This organ processes all your blood – a preferred mode of transportation for cancer cells, which is why most cases of liver cancer are secondary sites. In other words, they are cancers that start elsewhere and end up in the liver. When cancer actually starts in the liver, the cause is usually alcohol abuse, a birth defect, or chronic infection such as hepatitis B or C.
- Stomach Cancer: Stomach cancer results in more than 750,000 deaths per year. This type of cancer affects the lining of the stomach, and sometimes goes undetected at the earliest stage.
- Colorectal Cancer: Cancer found in the colon or the rectum causes the deaths of almost 800,000 people annually. If caught early, the survival rates are excellent.
- Breast Cancer: Breast cancer occurs in the breast tissues of both males and females – claiming the lives of more than 500,000 people every year. The malignant tumor that grows in this tissue spreads quickly to other parts of the body if left untreated. Breast cancer is the second most common cancer diagnosed in women (after skin cancer).
- Esophageal Cancer: Throat cancer – also known as cancer of the food pipe – claims the lives of more than 400,000 people each year globally.
- Cervical Cancer: The cervix is located at the lower end of the uterus and opens into the upper portion of the vaginal canal. If the cells in this area undergo changes that are undetected over time, cervical cancer could occur. It isresponsible for over 260,000 deaths worldwide.
- Prostate Cancer: There may be no signs or symptoms of prostate cancer until it has spread to other areas of the body. That’s the reason it claims the lives of 1.1 million men annually.
- Bladder Cancer: There are over 400,000 new cases of bladder cancer diagnosed each year globally. Fortunately, bladder cancer causes discomfort during urination so it is detected earlier than many other forms of cancer.
- Pancreatic Cancer: This cancer is aggressive and there are few symptoms of the disease until it is advanced. Abdominal pain, jaundice, and unexplained weight loss are signs that manifest in some patients. Pancreatic cancer claims the lives of over 330,000 people yearly.
- Leukemia: Cancer of the blood cells is called leukemia. It begins in your bone marrow where most blood cells are produced. Too many immature blood cells are created which crowd out the healthy blood cells, leading to increased risk of infection, extreme fatigue, and anemia. Leukemia causes the deaths of approximately 353,000 people every year.
- Non-Hodgkin’s Lymphoma: This cancer starts in the white blood cells of your lymphatic system – the core of your immune system. Abdominal pain, fatigue, and swollen lymph nodes (found in your armpits, neck, and groin) are symptoms some patients have reported.
Combined, these 13 types of cancer account for almost 75% of all diagnosed cancer cases in the world.
In many cases, what is known about cancer prevention is still evolving. However, it is well known that your chances of developing cancer are affected by the lifestyle choices you make. So if you’re concerned about cancer prevention, take comfort in the fact that some simple lifestyle changes can make a big difference. Consider these seven cancer prevention tips.
- Don’t use tobacco
Using any type of tobacco puts you on a collision course with cancer. Smoking has been linked to various types of cancer – including cancer of the lung, mouth, throat, larynx, pancreas, bladder, cervix and kidney. Even if you don’t use tobacco, exposure to secondhand smoke might increase your risk of lung cancer.
Avoiding tobacco – or deciding to stop using it – is one of the most important health decisions you can make.
- Eat a healthy diet
Although making healthy selections at the grocery store and at mealtime can’t guarantee cancer prevention, it might help reduce your risk. Consider these guidelines:
- Eat plenty of fruits and vegetables. Base your diet on fruits, vegetables and other foods from plant sources – such as whole grains and beans. In addition, women who eat a Mediterranean diet supplemented with extra-virgin olive oil and mixed nuts might have a reduced risk of breast cancer. The Mediterranean diet focuses on mostly on plant-based foods, such as fruits & vegetables, whole grains, legumes and nuts. People who follow the Mediterranean diet choose healthy fats, like olive oil, over butter and fish instead of red meat.
- Avoid obesity. Eat lighter and leaner by choosing fewer high-calorie foods, including refined sugars and fat from animal sources.
- If you drink alcohol, do so only in moderation. The risk of various types of cancer – including cancer of the breast, colon, lung, kidney and liver – increases with the amount of alcohol you drink and the length of time you’ve been drinking regularly.
- Limit processed meats. A report from the International Agency for Research on Cancer, the cancer agency of the World Health Organization, concluded that eating large amounts of processed meat can slightly increase the risk of certain types of cancer.
- Maintain a healthy weight and be physically active
Maintaining a healthy weight might lower the risk of various types of cancer, including cancer of the breast, prostate, lung, colon and kidney. Physical activity counts, too. In addition to helping you control your weight, physical activity on its own might lower the risk of breast cancer and colon cancer.
Adults who participate in any amount of physical activity gain some health benefits. But for substantial health benefits, strive to get at least 150 minutes a week of moderate aerobic activity or 75 minutes a week of vigorous aerobic physical activity.
- Protect yourself from the sun
Skin cancer is one of the most common kinds of cancer – and one of the most preventable. Try these tips:
- Avoid midday sun. Stay out of the sun between 10 a.m. and 4 p.m., when the sun’s rays are strongest.
- Stay in the shade. When you’re outdoors, stay in the shade as much as possible. Sunglasses and a broad-brimmed hat help, too.
- Cover exposed areas. Wear tightly woven, loose fitting clothing that covers as much of your skin as possible.
- Opt for bright or dark colors, which reflect more ultraviolet radiation than pastels or bleached cotton.
- Don’t skimp on sunscreen. Use generous amounts of sunscreen when you’re outdoors, and reapply often.
- Avoid tanning beds and sunlamps. These are just as damaging as natural sunlight.
- Get immunized
Cancer prevention includes protection from certain viral infections. Talk to your doctor about immunization against:
- Hepatitis B. Hepatitis B can increase the risk of developing liver cancer. The hepatitis B vaccine is recommended for certain high-risk adults – such as adults who are sexually active but not in a mutually monogamous relationship, people with sexually transmitted infections, intravenous drug users, men who have sex with men, and health care or public safety workers who might be exposed to infected blood or body fluids.
- Avoid risky behaviors
Another effective cancer prevention tactic is to avoid risky behaviors that can lead to infections that, in turn, might increase the risk of cancer. For example:
- Practice safe sex. Limit your number of sexual partners, and use a condom when you have sex. The more sexual partners you have in your lifetime, the more likely you are to contract a sexually transmitted infection – such as HIV or HPV. People who have HIV or AIDS have a higher risk of cancer of the anus, liver and lung. HPV is most often associated with cervical cancer, but it might also increase the risk of cancer of the anus, penis, throat, vulva and vagina.
- Don’t share needles. Sharing needles with an infected drug user can lead to HIV, as well as hepatitis B and hepatitis C – which can increase the risk of liver cancer.
If you’re concerned about drug abuse or addiction, seek professional help.
Next edition “Cancer Prevention Screening”
Kim Patra is a qualified Midwife & Nurse Practioner who has been living and working in Bali for over 30 years. She now runs her own Private Practice & Mothers & Babies center at her Community Health Care office in Sanur.
Copyright © 2018 Kim Patra
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