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Lung Cancer

Cancer Statistics in the United States

Cancer refers to a category of diseases in which abnormal cells grow, divide, and spread in an uncontrolled manner. It may be caused by internal factors, such as hormones, mutations (inherited or otherwise), and conditions of the immune system. Cancer may also be caused by external factors, such as tobacco, radiation, sunlight and infection. Cancer can begin in one part of the body and then spread to infect other parts, known as advanced cancer or metastatic cancer. If the cancer is allowed to continue untreated, the infected person may die.

An estimated 9.8 million Americans, comprising approximately 3.5% of the United States population, are either currently living with or have had cancer. Of these, about 76% are 55 years of age or older. Men are at a slightly higher risk for developing cancer throughout their lifetimes than women. Among American males, the risk of developing cancer within a lifetime is just under one in two; for women, the risk is just over one in three.

This year, over 1.3 million new cancer cases are estimated to be diagnosed, approximately 710,000 men and 660,000 women. Men are at the highest risk for prostate cancer, at nearly a quarter of a million new cases expected each year (232,000). Women are at the highest risk for breast cancer, at almost a third of all new cancer cases in women (211,000). Lung and bronchial cancers make up the next highest risk for both sexes, at over 93,000 new cases for men and 79,000 cases for women. Colon cancer presents the third highest risk for both men and women, at approximately 48,000 and 56,000 new cases, respectively.

One out of every four deaths in the United States is due to cancer. Over 1500 Americans die as a result of cancer every day, totaling over a half million each year. Rate of death is highest for those with lung and bronchial cancers in both men and women. Over 90,000 men and 73,000 women die from respiratory cancers each year. Breast cancer carries the next highest risk of death for women, at 40,000 each year. Prostate cancer is second for men, at 30,000 deaths per year. Colon cancer has the third highest rate of death for both sexes, at 28,000 deaths for men and 27,000 deaths for women.

The risk of developing some cancers is inherited, and beyond a patient’s ability to control or prevent. For these cancers, regular screenings are essential for detecting tumors at their earliest stages. For many types of cancer, however, the risks can be greatly reduced with preventative behaviors. Not engaging in cigarette smoking or heavy alcohol consumption can prevent the cancers caused by tobacco and alcohol. In the United States, an estimated 175,000 cancer-related deaths caused by tobacco could be prevented each year.

Other preventative factors that contribute to cancer include poor nutrition, physical inactivity and obesity. About one-third of all cancer deaths are related to these conditions, and could be prevented through improved health. Cancer caused as a result of infectious diseases, such as human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) or human papillomavirus (HPV) may also be able to be prevented through vaccination, antibiotics, or behavioral changes, such as practicing safe sex. Nearly one million skin cancers could be prevented each year through the use of sunscreens and avoidance of prolonged exposure to the sun.