Outside of astrology, “cancer” is a word that strikes fear in many people. Widely recognized as life-threatening, cancer is a complex group of diseases with different causes, treatments, and statistical outcomes.
Cancer happens when your body’s cells start to multiply uncontrollably. Sometimes, this growth forms tumors that spread (metastasize) to other body parts. As a result, cancer can affect nearly every part of your body — even your blood.
With three locations in San Pedro, California, Harbor Community Health Centers provides crucial supportive care for cancer patients and mammograms and other recommended screening designed to detect cancers early. In this post, our team reviews some crucial facts about cancer that can help you understand the disease and its treatment.
1. There are over 100 different kinds of cancer
Most of us are familiar with certain types of cancer, primarily because of the ad campaigns we’ve seen. And most of us know that some cancers spread (malignant cancers) while others do not (benign cancers).
Many of us don’t know that there are more than 100 types of cancer, each with different risk factors, symptoms, and treatments. In addition, different cancers can affect different areas of the body, and some cancers are more common depending on your gender, ethnicity, or other factors.
2. Many cancers are preventable
Cancer can’t always be avoided, but according to data from the World Health Organization, as many as half of all cancers worldwide are preventable. That’s because many cancers are caused by risk factors we can avoid — things like smoking, exposure to toxins, radiation, and even poor dietary habits. If you have a cancer diagnosis, if you have risk factors for cancer, or even if you want to do all you can to reduce your cancer risks, our team can help you learn healthy behaviors that can help.
3. Millions of people survive invasive (malignant) cancer
Receiving a diagnosis of cancer can be devastating, especially if the cancer is malignant (prone to spreading to other areas of your body). But many people with malignant cancers survive with prompt, appropriate treatment.
In fact, there are more than 18 million cancer survivors in the United States alone. Regular cancer screenings play an crucial role in identifying cancers so treatment can begin as early as possible.
4. Some cancers are more common than others
Some cancers are very rare, and a handful of cancers account for most of the diagnoses each year in the U.S. The five most common invasive cancers include:
- Breast cancer, with nearly 290,000 cases diagnosed annually
- Prostate cancer, with nearly 270,000 cases annually
- Lung cancer, with about 237,000 cases annually
- Colorectal cancer, with roughly 151,000 cases annually
- Melanoma, with about 100,000 cases each year
Overall, skin cancer — including benign and metastatic types — is the most common cancer in the U.S., with nearly 10,000 new diagnoses daily.
5. A few cancers have inherited genetic causes
Some people mistakenly believe cancer is caused in part by genes that you inherit from your parents or other relatives. While cancers have a genetic component (that is, the disease affects genes that cause cells to multiply), it’s crucial to know that only about 10% of cancers are related to inherited genetic causes. For example, if a parent passes a mutated gene to a child, that child can have an increased risk of cancer associated with that mutation.
6. Tanning beds are not safer than the sun
Most people know that too much sun exposure can dramatically increase their risk of developing skin cancer. But what a lot of people don’t realize is that tanning beds can be just as dangerous.
In fact, according to the American Academy of Dermatology, using a tanning bed increases the risks of squamous and basal cell carcinomas by 58% and 24%, respectively. If you have just one tanning session before age 20, your risk of melanoma — the deadliest type of skin cancer — increases by 47%, increasing further with each subsequent tanning session.
Regular cancer screening is essential
Regular cancer screenings are an essential part of staying healthy as you age. Our team can recommend the proper screenings based on age, health history, and other personal factors.
To learn more about cancer screening and the supportive services we offer, call 310-547-0202 to book an appointment with the team at Harbor Community Health Centers today.