Each year, around 850,000 women in America alone have to bear those terrifying words: “I've got bad news - you have cancer.” But all is not doom and gloom…
While a large number of ladies fall sick due to faulty genes and plain bad luck, research shows that around two-thirds of cancer deaths are in fact preventable. What I mean by this, is that there's a lot you can control - you just have to understand what you're up against.
Keep reading to find out which five types of cancer you as a woman should be most concerned about.
Five cancers most likely to affect women
Technically speaking, breast cancer
isn’t the leading cancer
in women – that title goes to skin cancer
. However, the American Cancer
Society doesn't include non-melanoma
skin cancers in its rankings, since they’re rarely life-threatening.
Back to breast cancer
, which one in eight women will develop in her lifetime… the good news is that, after rising for more than two decades, the number of women diagnosed with breast cancer
began decreasing in 2000 and dropped by about 7% from 2002 to 2003. The reason for this may be because fewer women are using hormone therapy for menopause symptoms nowadays.
#2: Lung cancer (about 106,470 new cases in women in 2016)
Lung cancer cases among women have risen a whopping 98% over the last four decades, according to the American Lung Association. What will make your jaw drop even further is the fact that more than half of the cases in women are among never-smokers!
The reason why remains a mystery. Theories include women's lungs being more susceptible to secondhand smoke and estrogen possibly fueling cancerous cells, says Therese Bevers, MD, a cancer prevention specialist at MD Anderson Cancer Center in Houston in the US.
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#3: Endometrial cancer (about 60,050 new cases in women in 2016)
Also known as uterine cancer, this type of cancer predominantly affects postmenopausal women (the average age of onset is 60). Alas, at this time there aren't any good screening tests to find this cancer early, says Cynthia Thomson, PhD, director of the Cancer Prevention and Control program at the University of Arizona Cancer Center.
#4: Thyroid cancer (about 49,350 new cases in women in 2016)
The chances of being diagnosed with thyroid cancer have more than doubled in the last 20 years, according to the American Cancer Society. But there's no need to panic... “We don't think the numbers themselves are actually increasing, but rather we're picking up more incidental cases when we do MRIs or CT scans for other reasons, such as to investigate recurrent migraines or neck pain
,” says Edmund Pribitkin, MD, a thyroid cancer specialist at Thomas Jefferson University in Philadelphia.
And here’s some more proof… Even though the incidence rates of thyroid cancer have rapidly increased, the death rates for this specific cancer have remained somewhat stable.
It may surprise you to learn that colon cancer
is an equal opportunity offender, as the same number of women and men develop it each year, according to the American Cancer Society.
“The good news is that it's almost entirely preventable,” says David Greenwald, MD, director of clinical gastroenterology and endoscopy at the Mount Sinai School of Medicine.
PS: For tips on how to adjust your lifestyle to help prevent cancer, read this