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The 13 Most Common Forms of Cancer
and the Keys to Prevention

There will be over 1.4 million new cases of cancer diagnosed in 2008, according to the American Cancer Society, and more than 1,500 people will die everyday from the disease.

One of the ways you can reduce your risk of cancer is to eat lots of fruits and vegetables.

As the second leading cause of death in the United States (heart disease is number one), cancer causes one out of every four deaths. The most common types of cancer, according to the National Cancer Institute, include (to qualify as a "common" cancer, the estimated annual incidence for 2008 had to be 35,000 cases or more):

  1. Nonmelanoma skin cancer: more than 1 million estimated new cases

  2. Lung cancer: over 215,000 new cases

  3. Prostate cancer: over 186,000 new cases

  4. Breast cancer (female): over 182,000 new cases

  5. Colon and rectal cancers: nearly 149,000 new cases

  6. Bladder cancer: nearly 69,000 new cases

  7. Non-Hodgkin lymphoma: over 66,000 new cases

  8. Melanoma: over 62,000 new cases

  9. Kidney (Renal Cell) cancer: over 46,000 new cases

  10. Leukemia: over 44,000 new cases

  11. Endometrial cancer: over 40,000 new cases

  12. Pancreatic cancer: over 37,600 new cases

  13. Thyroid cancer: over 37,000 new cases

A Breakdown of Cancer Facts

Breast Cancer

Aside from skin cancers, breast cancer is the most frequently diagnosed cancer in women. Major risk factors include family history and age, and the earliest sign of breast cancer is typically an abnormality detected on a mammogram.

The five-year survival rate for localized breast cancer is 98 percent.

Prostate Cancer

Prostate cancer is the most frequently diagnosed cancer in men, and rates are significantly higher in African American men than in white men. The only well-established risk factors are age, ethnicity and family history. More than 90 percent of all prostate cancers are discovered in the local and regional stages.

The five-year survival rate for all stages of prostate cancer combined is 99 percent, 10-year survival rate is 91 percent, and 15-year survival rate is 76 percent.

Colon and Rectal Cancers

More than 90 percent of colorectal cancers are diagnosed in people over the age of 50. Early stage cancer can be detected by screenings, as can colorectal polyps, which can then be removed before they become cancerous.

The five-year survival rate for colorectal cancers is 64 percent.


Though often thought of as a childhood disease, leukemia is diagnosed 10 times more often in adults than in children. Symptoms include fatigue, weight loss, repeated infections, paleness, easy bruising, and nosebleeds. Cigarette smoking, exposure to chemicals such as benzene, and exposure to ionizing radiation are all risk factors for this disease. Leukemia can also occur as a side effect of cancer treatment.

The five-year survival rate for acute myeloid leukemia is 21 percent, and 75 percent for those with chronic lymphocytic leukemia.

Lung Cancer

Lung cancer causes the most cancer-related deaths among men and women. The most common risk factor is cigarette smoking, followed by exposure to secondhand smoke, radon, asbestos, air pollution and other chemicals.

The five-year survival rate for localized lung cancer is 49 percent (but only 16 percent of lung cancers are diagnosed at this early stage).

Pancreatic Cancer

Risk factors for pancreatic cancer include cigarette smoking, obesity, chronic pancreatitis, diabetes, cirrhosis, and the use of smokeless tobacco. The disease usually presents no symptoms in the early stages, which is why only about 7 percent of cases are diagnosed at an early stage. Later symptoms can include jaundice, weight loss, discomfort in the abdomen and occasional high blood sugar levels.

positive outlook fights cancer

Increasing research suggests that keeping stress under control in your life, and having a positive, happy outlook, can also fight off diseases like cancer.

The five-year survival rate for localized pancreatic cancer is 20 percent.

Cancer Prevention Tactics

Many types of cancer are influenced by lifestyle factors that you can control. The following tips will help to reduce your risk of a variety of cancers.

  • Lose Weight: Obesity is a risk factor for many types of cancer.

  • Quit Smoking: This is the major cause of lung cancer.

  • Limit Alcohol Consumption: Drinking alcohol in excess increases your risk of various cancers.

  • Eat More Fruits and Vegetables: They're loaded with cancer-fighting nutrients, such as phytoestrogens.

  • Limit Intake of Processed Meats and Trans Fats: Processed meats, like lunchmeats, hot dogs, bacon and sausages, have been linked to prostate and other cancers.

  • Exercise regularly. Exercise will reduce your risk of just about every type of cancer.

  • Avoid exposure to environmental chemicals and air pollution. As air pollution inside the home is one of the fastest-growing causes of disease, leading health organizations now strongly recommend you use a high-quality air purifier in your home, such as the PIONAIR™ Air Treatment System.

  • Get the proper amount of vitamin D. Maintaining healthy vitamin D levels is known to protect against cancer, according to the Vitamin D Council. Experts say 15-20 minutes of sunlight a day is an ideal amount for a light-skinned person to produce the right amount of vitamin D.

Recommended Reading

The 8 Most Unusual Sources of Potential Cancer Cures

Why Wouldn't Drug Companies be Interested in this Likely Cancer Cure?


American Cancer Society: Cancer Facts and Figures 2008

National Cancer Institute

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