Cancer is a deadly and tragically common disease that can affect almost anyone. In fact, because of how cancer manifests, if you live long enough, cancer becomes a near inevitability.
The cells in our bodies are constantly replicating, and each replication comes with some probability of an error, resulting in a mutation. Many of these mutations are harmless and perfectly acceptable to the body, but some can spiral into malignance.
This is why there are many different types of cancers, which develop in different ways and affect different parts of the body. But which types of cancer are most common and what can you do to prevent these cancers from developing?
Why Some Cancers Are More Common Than Others
First, let’s address why some cancers are more common than others.
· Cancers have different causes. For starters, different types of cancer have different root causes. While cancer can develop practically anywhere as a natural byproduct of cell division, certain types of cancers only emerge under a set of specific circumstances. For example, according to this site, mesothelioma is a rare and very specific type of cancer that almost exclusively emerges as a result of exposure to asbestos. Because asbestos is no longer commonly used as a building material, the rate of this cancer is quite low. Conversely, lung cancer can develop in response to breathing in all sorts of pollutants and hazardous materials, and it’s especially common in smokers, so it’s no surprise that we see this emerging at a higher rate.
· Tumors are tolerated better in some parts of the body. It’s also worth noting that certain parts of the body are better equipped to handle tumors, resulting in fewer tumors developing and a lower risk of those tumors becoming destructive. Small, critical organs have evolved better defensive mechanisms than their larger counterparts; this is one reason why heart cancer is so rare, compared to something like colon cancer.
· Genetics play a significant role. Genetics play a significant role in cancer risk. While it’s possible for anyone to develop cancer, people who have a family history of cancer are at significantly higher risk. Different genetic factors correlate with different types of cancer, and some of these genetic risks are more prevalent in the population than others.
The Most Common Forms of Cancer
According to the latest cancer statistics, the most common types of cancer are (in descending order) “breast cancer, lung and bronchus cancer, prostate cancer, colon and rectum cancer, melanoma of the skin, bladder cancer, non-Hodgkin lymphoma, kidney and renal pelvis cancer, endometrial cancer, leukemia, pancreatic cancer, thyroid cancer, and liver cancer.”
There are approximately 1.8 million new cases of cancer every year, resulting in more than 600,000 deaths (source). Every year, the rate of new cases of cancer is 442.4 per 100,000 people.
Unfortunately, there’s no surefire strategy for preventing cancer. However, there are some lifestyle habits you can pursue that reduce your cancer risk overall. Eating a balanced mix of different foods (with lots of fruits and vegetables), exercising regularly, and avoiding exposure to known carcinogenic materials (like tobacco products), for example, can greatly reduce your risk of developing cancer.
The Value of Cancer Screenings
No matter how well you take care of your health, it’s a good idea to get cancer screenings regularly. Because the risk of cancer increases with age, the older you get, the more important these screenings become.
There are a few main reasons why cancer screenings are valuable:
· Cancer screenings are readily available and convenient. For most people, cancer screenings are readily available and convenient. Cancer screening technology has developed considerably over the decades, and most healthcare institutions are equipped to use these devices for all their patients.
· Cancer screenings are often free or inexpensive. Private health insurance policies, Medicare, and Medicaid are legally required to cover certain types of cancer screenings. Accordingly, these screenings are free or inexpensive for most patients. If you don’t have insurance, you may qualify for some programs that can cover or mitigate the costs of these screenings.
· Cancer is sometimes difficult to detect. Cancer doesn’t always trigger a sequence of recognizable symptoms. You may have cancer even if you don’t feel anything wrong in your body. Screenings may be your only tool to identify it.
· Catching cancer early can save your life. Finally, and most importantly, if you catch cancer early enough, it could save your life. It’s much easier and more effective to treat cancer early in its development.
Some types of cancer may be more common than others, but everyone should be cognizant of their own cancer risks. Improving your personal health, visiting the doctor regularly, and getting frequent screenings can minimize your chances of developing cancer and maximize your chances of surviving it, should it ever develop.