The Most Common Cancers Affecting Today’s Women

Cancer is a global health issue, affecting both men and women. Nevertheless, there exist specific cancers that disproportionately affect women due to unique anatomical characteristics and other underlying factors. In the United States, cancer claims the unfortunate title of being the second leading cause of death, trailing only heart disease. This translates into a startling reality: one out of every four American women will ultimately succumb to cancer.

Given the pervasive nature of this threat, cancer awareness for women becomes not just a priority but a lifeline. This article seeks to illuminate the three most formidable cancers that consistently inflict a heavy toll on women in the United States, arming them with knowledge to navigate their health journeys. 

Leading the roster of cancers that women confront is lung and bronchus cancer, accounting for over 61,000 female deaths each year. Remarkably, it is the deadliest cancer among women, even though it may not be the most frequently diagnosed. Cigarette smoke stands as the primary perpetrator of lung cancer, closely followed by radon gas exposure and secondhand smoke. However, as air quality deteriorates in specific regions, additional environmental factors such as hazardous chemicals and airborne particles also play pivotal roles in elevating diagnosis rates. Encouragingly, recent years have witnessed a decline in death rates, a testament to reduced smoking rates and the advancements made in treating non-small cell lung cancer. 

Breast cancer occupies the position of the second most lethal cancer for women, claiming approximately 43,250 lives annually in the United States. It also ranks as the second most diagnosed cancer in American women, trailing only skin cancer. While breast cancer can strike at any age, the risk escalates with the passage of time. Numerous factors contribute to a woman’s susceptibility to breast cancer, including a family history of the disease, body weight, childbearing history, breastfeeding practices, and the use of birth control, particularly oral contraceptives. Lifestyle choices, such as exposure to cancer-causing chemicals, alcohol consumption, dietary patterns, and physical activity levels, further complicate the risk picture. Importantly, while there’s no foolproof way to prevent breast cancer, women have access to essential preventive measures. These encompass regular self-examinations, blood test for metastatic breast cancer, mammograms, and annual health evaluations administered by healthcare providers.

Colon and rectum cancer, often referred to as colorectal cancer or CRC, ranks as the third deadliest cancer among women in the United States, claiming more than 24,180 lives each year. This cancer type affects both the large and small intestines, including the rectum. Risk factors for CRC are multifaceted and encompass age (particularly over 50), a family history of the disease, a personal history of polyps, and chronic inflammatory conditions in the intestines, such as ulcerative colitis or Crohn’s disease. Lifestyle choices, including smoking, heavy alcohol consumption, and diets low in fiber and high in fat, also contribute to elevated risk levels. Regular CRC screening, typically commencing in one’s 40s depending on individual risk factors, plays a pivotal role in early detection and prevention. Screening methods include stool-based tests and visual structural examinations, such as colonoscopies.

In conclusion, cancer awareness for women is more than acknowledging its existence. As women grapple with these diseases at alarmingly high rates, education, regular screenings, and informed lifestyle choices emerge as indispensable tools in the battle against cancer. While we continue to strive for improved prevention and treatment strategies, let us never underestimate the profound impact of awareness on the lives of women. For more information, please look over the accompanying resource created by Natera.

Infographic provided by Natera
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