Though there is vast research conducted and there are well proven facts known about cancer, there is always a blind area about some cancers raising questions among public – why they occur?, when they occur? and in whom they occur?. As it is impossible to know about each and every cancer in detail, it is worth knowing about the most common cancers. The awareness of common cancers helps the individual to be away from the modifiable risk factors and causative agents of those cancers and helps to be alert about the early symptoms.
The following are the most common cancers and the order of frequency varies in men and women.
1. Prostate cancer
2. Lung cancer
3. Breast cancer
4. Colorectal cancer
5. Skin cancer
Prostate Cancer is one of the most common cancers of men worldwide. Prostate cancer develops in the prostate gland of male reproductive system. The cancer is slow growing but can spread to bones and lymph nodes. Men should be cautious about the symptoms as early diagnosis helps in cure. Frequent or painful urination more in the night, blood in urine, sexual problems like erectile dysfunction, bone pains due to metastasis are the warning symptoms of prostatic cancer. Presence of Prostatic specific antigen aids in the diagnosis of prostate cancer.
Lung cancer is the most common cause of cancer deaths in men and second most common cause of cancer in women. Tobacco smoking is implicated to be the major cause of lung cancer. Lung cancers primarily arising from the epithelial cells of lung can be majorly of two varieties, Small cell carcinoma of lung or Non small cell carcinoma of lung. The warning symptoms of lung cancer are chronic cough, Breathlessness, loss of weight, Blood in the sputum. Lung cancer screening is done by chest x-ray and diagnosis confirmed by CT guided Biopsy.
Breast Cancer is the most common cancer in women in the developed countries. Nulliparous women with no children, women who never breast fed their babies, Obese women, increased age, high smoking are the risk factors for breast cancer. The warning signs are presence of lump in the breast – more risk if it is felt in outer upper quadrant, inversion of nipple, puckering of skin on the breast, presence of enlarged lymph nodes in the axilla, serous or bloody discharge from the nipple. Breast cancer can be early diagnosed by self examination and mammogram is the best non invasive diagnostic tool for breast cancer.
Colorectal cancer is one of the increasing cancers due to modern day lifestyle. It is the cancer arising from the epithelium of colon or rectum, Presence of Inflammatory bowel disease leads to increased risk of colon cancer. Warning symptoms are blood in stools, loss of weight, weakness due to anemia. Active screening annually with colonoscopy is advised for elderly.
Skin cancer is at increased rates due to decreased protection to harmful ultraviolet rays of sun as the ozone layer is losing its thickness day by day due to increased air pollutants. Basal cell carcinoma, Squamous cell carcinoma and Melanoma are the types of skin cancers. The warning signs are skin ulcerations with no healing, change in size and color of the mole. Early excision of the affected portion limits the spread and helps in cure.
Apart from these, the other most common cancers in order of frequencies are Non hodgkins lymphoma, Uterine cancer, Leukemias, Bladder cancer, Ovarian and thyroid cancers.