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Conquer Cancer Health News

Information for Cancer Patients, Part II in a Series

What is Cancer?

Cancer is a large group of diseases (over 100 different types) that usually involves the rapid growth of abnormal cells, and can affect any organ or system in the body.

Which are the most common cancers?

For women: skin, breast, colon, lung, uterine
For men: skin, prostate, lung, colon

Can anyone get cancer?

Cancer can develop in individuals of all races, ethnic backgrounds, and at any age. Statistics show that cancer is more common in black men than white men. Black and white women have the same rates.

Are more people surviving cancer today?

Yes. The 5 year survival rate was 20% in the 1930's (1 in 5 patients). Today, almost 4 out of 10 patients, or about 40% are alive five years after being diagnosed with cancer.

How many people die of cancer?

One of every 5 deaths from all causes each year in the United States is due to cancer.

Does cigarette smoking really cause cancer?

Smoking is responsible for 87% of all lung cancers. Smokers are also more likely to develop cancer of the mouth, throat, pancreas, bladder and kidney. Smoking is the cause of about 30% of all cancer deaths. It also causes heart disease, stroke, bronchitis and emphysema.

Can diet cause or prevent cancer?

Research is ongoing in this field, but studies show that a high-fat diet may lead to colon cancer, and may also be associated with prostate, uterine and breast cancer. Fruits, vegetables, and other fiber rich foods may be important in preventing certain types of cancer.

Can drinking too much cause cancer?

Heavy alcohol consumption, especially when accompanied by cigarette smoking, increases the risk of cancers of the mouth, throat, liver and stomach.

Can sun tanning cause skin cancer?

Absolutely. Over exposure to the sun's ultraviolet rays over long periods of time is the cause of many types of skin cancers. Fair skinned people are more prone than those who tan easily. Protect your skin with clothing, hats and a good sunscreen.

Is cancer contagious?

Absolutely not.

Is cancer inherited?

It can be. Family tendencies have been noted in cancer of the breast colon, stomach, prostate, lung and ovary and in leukemia. Relatives of these patients may need more frequent cancer-related checkups.

Can cancer be prevented?

Some, but not all. Most lung cancers can be prevented by not smoking. Most skin cancers can be prevented by avoiding over exposure to the sun. The best defense is early detection. Routine cancer related check-ups are the best way of finding early cancers when they have the greatest chance of a cure. Prompt medical attention can lead to an excellent chance for successful treatment.

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