The American Cancer Society estimates that approximately two million new
cancer cases will be reported this year. Of this staggering number, the
most common cancers - skin, prostate, breast, and lung,
respectively - account for 800,000, 317,100, 184,300, and 177,000 new
cases annually. To promote prevention and health, the United States has
designated April as Cancer Awareness Month.
Normally, our cells divide and reproduce in order to replace
tissues, repair injuries, and promote cell growth. Cancer interferes
with this pattern, causing cells to divide rapidly and form masses
called tumors. Benign tumors may cause pain and impede customary health,
but typically do not metastasize (spread to other parts of the body).
Malignant, cancerous tumors destroy normal tissues and may metastasize,
making treatment much more difficult.
Many cancers are preventable. The American Cancer Society determines
that 90% of the 800,000 annually diagnosed skin cancers could have been
prevented by protection from the sun. Further, they state that all
cancers caused by smoking and heavy alcohol consumption could be
Diet is another factor under a person's control. Eating fruits,
vegetables, and fiber may reduce some cancers. Regular screening exams
and self-tests can also detect many cancers.
For all cases, early treatment is the key to a cure. With early
detection, about 95% of cancer victims survive. Over ten million
Americans alive today have a history of cancer. Approximately seven
million of them were diagnosed at least five years ago, and most of
these people are considered cured -- having the same life expectancy as
someone who has not had cancer.
Of course, a second opinion on positive test results and diagnosis is
often advised. Treatment options, then, for skin cancer may consist of
electrosurgery, cryosurgery (freezing with liquid nitrogen), radiation
therapy, or laser or excisional surgery. For other cancers, treatment
includes surgery, hormone therapy, radiation therapy, stem cell rescue
(an alternative to bone marrow transplant), and chemotherapy.
- Chronic overexposure to sun
- Family history of skin cancer
- Large number of moles or freckles
- In some cases, contact with arsenic, exposure to radiation,
complications of burns, tattoos
- In general, the risk increases as you grow older
- Family history of prostate cancer
- High-fat diet
- Black American men are more at risk
- Risk increases as you grow older
- History of breast cancer in close family
- Being childless or having had the first
child after age 30
- Obesity (20% over ideal body weight)
- Beginning the menstrual period at an early age
- Going through menopause at a late age
- Heavy alcohol consumption
- Smoking or using tobacco
- Exposure to hazardous material
- Black American men and women
- White women
Info on types of skin cancer and encouragement about
prevention and treatment.