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Important facts about common types of cancer

Illness can be a taboo topic in our society, but in the case of cancer, information can be the difference between life and death. Cancer will affect over 1 million people in the United States this year and the people affected will likely suffer from a common cancer.

Common cancers are so named because of their statistics; in order for a cancer to become common, it has to have an estimated annual incidence of 35,000 cases or more in 2008. What this means is cancer registries will have to see a fair number of patients diagnosed with a particular cancer in a particular year in order for the cancer to be termed "common."

Types of Common Cancers

The most common cancers in the U.S., according to the National Cancer Center, are:

  • Bladder cancer
  • Breast cancer
  • Colon and rectal cancer
  • Endometrial cancer (including cervical cancer)
  • Kidney cancer
  • Leukemia
  • Lung cancer
  • Melanoma and skin cancer
  • Pancreatic cancer
  • Non-Hodgkin lymphoma
  • Prostate cancer
  • Thyroid cancer

Top Three Fatal Cancers

Bladder cancer tops out the list at number one. The National Cancer Center lists bladder cancer symptoms as blood in the urine (causing it to appear rusty red), pain during urination, frequent urination and / or urination without producing any results. They advise people to be checked by their family doctor, and then referred to a urologist or a specialist who can determine whether their symptoms are bladder cancer or a benign tumor, cyst or stone.

Breast cancer is the second most-fatal cancer in the United States. Because of this, information on breast cancer treatment and breast cancer research are constantly evolving. Symptoms include a thickening or lump in the breast or underarm area, nipple tenderness, a change in the size or shape of the breast, a nipple turned inward to the breast or a change in the skin on the breast (red, swollen or scaly). Women (and men) should call their family doctor and be referred for a mammogram to rule this cancer out.

Colon and rectal cancers are number three on the list of common cancers. Symptoms include diarrhea or constipation, feeling that your bowel is not completely empty, losing weight for no particular reason, feeling tired, having narrower stools than usual, gas pains or cramps, feeling bloated, nausea or vomiting, or blood in the stool. Someone with these symptoms will need to see his or her family doctor and then be referred to a gastroenterologist for further tests and screening.

Resources for Cancer Information

You don't have to be uninformed about common cancers. There are many resources available, including detailed information about each cancer from the National Cancer Center. Your doctor can order any tests or screening you may need, especially if your family medical history indicates cancer. Knowledge is power – when you're aware of your risks, you can recognize the signs and symptoms of common cancers much sooner.

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