The ten deadliest cancers – where are the cures?

More money for research will lead to eventual cancer cures.

Fact: Cancer is the second-leading cause of death among people in America.

Fact: Despite technology that allows doctors to diagnose and begin treating certain cancers in the early stages, some forms of cancer are simply incurable.

Cancer, by nature, is an unpredictable disease. There are a number of causes for cancer – exposure to certain toxins like asbestos and mercury, for example, or genetics – but sometimes, people are diagnosed and their physician struggles to pinpoint the reasons why. There are more than one hundred different cancers, according to the American Cancer Society. Many of these are curable – certain forms of breast cancer and prostate cancer – while others are not [certain types of brain cancer].

Today, the five-year cancer survival rate is right around 65%, compared to 50% just thirty years ago. Since then, an estimated $200 billion dollars has been spent on cancer research. Between 2003 and 2007 the National Cancer Institute compiled information on the ten most deadly cancers. While some people just don’t want to consider their own cancer risk, because it’s too scary and overwhelming, Do You Know Cancer believes that the numbers are worth sharing. If just one person reads these statistics and is encouraged to undergo cancer screenings, then it was worth it.

Lung/Bronchial Cancer: some may not know that lung cancer is the most lethal cancer in the U.S. When you consider the number of Americans who are long-time cigarette and tobacco users, this might make more sense, but people who have never smoked also develop this disease. The average ages of lung cancer sufferers is about 60, and in 2010 alone, close to 160,000 people are estimated to lose their battle with this form of cancer. Between 2003 and 2007, almost 800,000 Americans died of lung or bronchial cancer.

Colorectal Cancer: we recently shared information about what to expect when you go for your first colonoscopy, and TV news anchor Katie Couric had one on live television. Still, thousands of Americans put off this life-saving cancer screening for a number of reasons. Even well-known physician and TV personality Dr. Oz considered delaying his colonoscopy, but it’s a good thing he didn’t – his doctor discovered a pre-cancerous growth in on his intestine, which had to be removed. Between 2003 and 2007, 268,783 people died of colorectal cancers; most of these cases begin as small, benign clusters of polyps located on the intestines which become malignant over time. People should receive a colonoscopy every ten years after they turn fifty. This year, over 50,000 people will die of colorectal cancer.

Breast Cancer: as the second-most commonly diagnosed type of cancer in American women, breast cancer gets a lot of time in the spotlight. But did you know that 1% of men will be diagnosed with breast cancer, too? Between 2003 and 2008, there were a reported 2,000 male breast cancer cases. After skin care, this form of cancer is most deadly for women, and between 2003 and 2007, 206,983 women lost their lives. Breast cancer typically manifests in the ducts of the breast, and this year, about 40,000 people are expected to die of breast cancer. Note: October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month.

Prostate Cancer: while some forms of this cancer are consider easily treatable, other types of prostate cancer are aggressive, spread fast and are incurable. It is the second cause of death for American men after lung cancer, and between 2003 and 2007 close to 145,000 men died as a result. The best chance for survival is early detection and immediate treatment. In 2010, an estimated 32,000 men will die of prostate cancer.

Leukemia: between 2003 and 2007, 109,740 people died of leukemia, a cancer of the blood. There are several types of leukemia, which produces an overabundance of abnormal white blood cells. Acute myelogenous leukemia took the most lives between the aforementioned years – 47, 714 – and this year, another 22,000 Americans will likely lose their leukemia battle. Pop singer Rich Cronin, of LFO, died on September 8th following complications associated to AML. This month, all over the country, the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society is sponsoring their annual Light the Night Walk, which brings together communities, including leukemia survivors and the friends and families of those who did not survive. You can find a walk in your area by visiting their website.

Non-Hodgkin Lymphoma: a cancer of the lymphocytes, or white blood cells, this disease is associated with large lymph nodes, high fever and rapid weight loss. There are several forms of Non-Hodgkin Lymphoma that, like leukemia, are categorized by how quickly the cancer spreads. More than 20,000 people are expected to die from this cancer in 2010. Over 100,000 died between 2003 and 2007.

Liver Cancer: while this type of cancer is more common outside of the U.S., close to 80,000 Americans succumbed to the disease between 2003 and 2007, and about 19,000 will lose their battles in 2010. Bile Duct Cancer, similar to liver cancer, also kills thousands annually. Liver cancer generally begins in another part of the body but spreads to the liver. Without a liver transplant, this cancer is fatal, and even some patients who are lucky enough to receive a transplant will experience a reoccurrence.

Ovarian Cancer: between 2003 and 2007, ovarian cancer was the fourth-leading killer of American women. The average age of newly-diagnosed patients is 63, but young women – even women in their twenties and teens – are at risk. It’s a tough cancer to treat, as it is difficult to accurately diagnose in the early stages, when treatment is most effective. Pain in the abdomen, a frequent urge to urinate and pelvic pain similar to menstrual cramps are some of the symptoms experienced by the 74,000 women who died of ovarian cancer between 2003 and 2007. This year, another 14,000 women may die of this disease. Clearly, the need for earlier screenings at a gynecologist has never been more important.

Esophageal Cancer: beginning in the tube that transports food from your throat to your stomach, this cancer usually affects more men than women. Between 2003 and 2007 over 60,000 Americans died. In 2010, another 14,500 may die of esophageal cancer.

All of this may sound discouraging, but Dr. Len Lichtenfeld of the American Cancer Society believes that we’re in a better place technology-speaking than ever before. He asserts that the boom in cancer research funding in the last three decades has led to better treatments, faster diagnosis and more sophisticated research and treatment facilities.


My Health News Daily

American Cancer Society

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