Learn more about the most common cancers in the US. Get familiar with the symptoms and the available screening tests from centers for cancer services.
6 Common Cancer Types in the US (Header 1)Cancer is an umbrella term for a group of diseases where malignant tumors and neoplasms spread and invade a part of the body. The spread of the abnormal cells to other organs is called metastasis, which is the primary cause of cancer mortality. It is a significant public health issue globally and the second leading cause of death in the United States. According to the American Cancer Society, more than 15.5 million Americans have had cancer.
Centers for cancer services and research encourage early diagnosis, screening, and treatment to reduce fatal cases. Timely detection involves the identification of an individual’s risk factors that would likely develop into any of the many cancer types. However, patients in the US are frequently diagnosed with bladder, breast, colorectal, endometrial and kidney cancers, and leukemia.
This disease causes the formation of malignant cells in the tissues of the bladder. The symptoms include blood in the urine, backaches, and frequent painful urination.
Cigarette smoking is the primary risk factor for bladder cancer, but it can also be due to genetics and chemical exposure. Physical exams, including urinalysis, urine cytology, and cystoscopy, help detect bladder cancer.
The formation of malignant cells on the breast is called breast cancer. This is the second most common cancer in women after skin cancer.While hormonal imbalance and obesity are among the risk factors, a family history of the disease (genetics) is still its primary cause. According to the National Cancer Institute, the usual symptoms include:
- Fluid discharge aside from milk
- Puckering in the skin of the breast
- A lump in or near the breast or the underarm area
- A change in the size or shape of the breast
Those who have a history of breast cancer in their family can be considered high-risk and can undergo a screening that includes a mammogram, MRI, and tissue sampling to determine how likely it is that they have the disease.
Colorectal cancer starts with a cancerous mass called a polyp growing inside the colon or rectum. Heredity, obesity, cigarette smoking, and persistent alcohol drinking all affect the chances of developing tumors in the colon, rectum, and anal canal. The signs and symptoms include:
- Blood in the stool
- Vomiting, bloating, diarrhea, constipation
- Narrow stools
- Sudden weight loss
Medical tests, such as a colonoscopy, rectal exam, and fecal analysis, provide results that can identify colorectal cancer cases.
Not to be confused with cervical cancer, endometrial cancer affects the uterus through irregular masses on its inner lining, cellular glands, or muscle cells. The risk factors include obesity, irregular hormone levels caused by birth control pills and polycystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS), diabetes, and heredity. Endometrial cancer patients exhibit the following symptoms:
- Unusual vaginal bleeding, spotting, or discharge
- Pelvic pain
- A mass or tumor
- Sudden weight loss
Pelvic or transvaginal ultrasounds enable doctors to check the uterine walls and pinpoint endometrial polyps. The gynecologist then decides where the site of the biopsy will be and take endometrial tissue for examination.
Kidney cancer is a disease where healthy cells turn into malignant growths that spread to the kidney tubules, renal pelvis, and ureter. For younger patients, it often turns into tumors on the kidney tissue. The risk factors for kidney cancer include regular smoking, misuse of pain medicine, and high blood pressure. Kidney cancer patients might experience the following:
- Blood in the urine
- Persistent lower back pain
- Sudden weight loss
- A lump in the abdomen
An ultrasound, MRI, and CT scan help doctors determine the location of the cancer inside the body. Blood chemistry tests, urinalysis, and biopsy give valuable information on a patient’s kidney health by examining the cells.
Leukemia is a general name for cancers of the blood cells. The type of leukemia depends on what blood cell is affected. Adults over 55 are at high risk of this disease, but it is also the most common cancer in children under 15. People who have a family history of any blood cancer are at high risk of leukemia, including ones who smoke, have long-term exposure to industrial chemicals and radiation, and have underlying congenital issues. The common symptoms of leukemia are:
- Quick bruising or bleeding
- Bone or joint pain
- Muscle weakness
- Shortness of breath
- Loss of appetite
- Susceptibility to infections
- Swelling of the lymph nodes
- Night sweats
Doctors often determine the existence and type of leukemia through blood chemistry tests and bone marrow aspiration.
Cancer Screenings Save Lives
Knowing more about the risk factors and available tests increases the chances of a good prognosis. Hospitals that offer cancer services include screenings for people even before any symptoms show. Early detection helps identify the cancers of the bladder, breast, colorectal, endometrial, kidney, and blood cells (leukemia) at an early stage when it’s easier to treat. Contact your primary care physician for more information.