Cancer affects millions of people all over the world and experts estimate that around 1 in 3 people will be affected by cancer in their lifetime. There are hundreds of different forms of cancer and the disease can affect almost every organ and system in the body. Survival rates for cancer are increasing every year thanks to research and the emergence of better treatments and cancer care, but millions still lose their lives to the deadly disease.
The most common forms of cancer are:
1. Prostate cancer
Prostate cancer is the most common form of male cancer; it is estimated that there were more than 241,000 new cases diagnosed in the USA in 2011. Prostate cancer affects the prostate gland, which is part of the male reproductive system. Prostate cancer is more common in older men and men of African-Caribbean heritage; symptoms include urinating more often, especially during the night, getting an urgent desire to urinate and feeling like you haven’t emptied your bladder after you have urinated.
2. Breast cancer
Breast cancer is the most common form of female cancer; it can affect both men and women but it is much more common in women. Breast cancer affects women of all ages but is most common in those over the age of 30 years old. Breast cancer survival rates have increased significantly over the last decade but thousands of women still die from the disease every year. Symptoms of breast cancer include lumps or swelling in and around the breasts, unusual discharge from the nipples and changes to the colour and texture of the skin around the nipples.
3. Lung cancer
It is estimated that around 9 out of 10 cases of lung cancer are linked to smoking. Lung cancer affects the lungs and usually causes a persistent, chronic cough and coughing up blood. More than 230,000 people were diagnosed with lung cancer in 2011 in the USA. The major risk factor is smoking, which increases your risk of developing cancer by around 22 times for men and 12 times for women.
4. Skin cancer
Skin cancer is becoming increasingly common; it is characterised by changes to the look of the skin, usually in moles, and the appearance of new moles. Skin cancer can be malignant or benign; malignant melanoma is the most serious form of cancer and it can spread to other parts of the body. It is estimated that more than 2 million people in the USA are diagnosed with skin cancer every year; the majority of cases are non-melanoma cases. The best way to prevent skin cancer is to wear high factor sunscreen and avoid exposure to the sun.
5. Colorectal cancer (also known as bowel cancer)
Colorectal cancer affects the colon and rectum, parts of the digestive system. Colorectal cancer tends to affect older people over the age of 65 years old. Symptoms include blood in the stools, changes in bowel habits and unexpected weight loss. Bowel cancer is the second most common form of cancer in women behind breast cancer.
6. Bladder cancer
Bladder cancer affects the bladder, the organ responsible for storing urine. Bladder cancer is more common among older people and the most common symptom is blood in the urine.
7. Kidney cancer
Kidney cancer affects the kidneys; cancer can affect one or both kidneys, but in most cases, only kidney is affected. In many cases, there are no symptoms and the cancer is detected during tests for other illnesses; however, symptoms that may appear include blood in the urine, a lump in the abdomen and pain below the ribs, which tends to be constant.
8. Non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma
Non-Hodgkin’s is a form of lymphoma, a form of cancer that affects the lymphatic system. Lymphoma is classified as Hodgkin’s or Non-Hodgkin’s. Symptoms include a painless swelling or lump in the lymph glands, usually in the armpit, groin or neck, night sweats, unexplained weight loss and tiredness.
9. Thyroid cancer
Thyroid cancer affects the thyroid gland, which is located at the base of the throat. Symptoms of thyroid cancer include chronic hoarseness, difficulty swallowing, pain in the neck or throat and breathing difficulties.
10. Oral cancer (also known as mouth cancer)
Oral cancer is becoming increasingly common; unlike other forms of cancer, survival rates have not improved in recent years because many people are still unaware of the symptoms and causes. Risk factors for oral cancer include smoking, drinking alcohol and exposure to the HPV (human Papilloma virus, a sexually transmitted virus). Symptoms include slow-healing sores or ulcers, lumps in the mouth or throat and red or white patches in the mouth.