Cancer, a generic term for a large group of diseases which can affect any part of the body, is the leading cause of death worldwide.
In 2004, cancer accounted for 7.4 million deaths - around 13 percent of all deaths - and this figure is expected to continue to rise, as it's estimated by the World Health Organization (WHO) that in 2030, there will be 12 million deaths from cancer. Of those cancer deaths, the most common is lung, stomach, liver, colon and breast cancer. But what is even more shocking of all, is the fact that 30 percent of all cancers could be prevented.
The types of cancer differ between men and women. Among men, the most common forms of cancer are lung, stomach, liver, colorectal, oesophagus and prostate. Among women, it's breast, lung, stomach, colorectal and cervical.
It's estimated by WHO, that between 2005 - 2015, 84 million people will die from cancer - a shocking figure.
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About one-third of the cancer burden could be decreased if cases were detected and treated early. Most cancers are initially recognized either because signs or symptoms appear or through screening. Neither of these lead to a definitive diagnosis, which usually requires the opinion of a pathologist, a type of physician who specializes in the diagnosis of cancer and other diseases. People with suspected cancer are investigated with medical tests. These commonly include blood tests, X-rays, CT scans and endoscopy.
In the United States, cancer is responsible for 25 percent of all deaths with 30 percent of these from lung cancer. Cancer can occur in children and adolescents, but it is uncommon (about 150 cases per million in the US), with leukemia the most common. In the first year of life the incidence is about 230 cases per million in the US, with the most common being neuroblastoma.
In the developed world, one in three people will develop cancer during their lifetime.
Key risk factors for cancer that can be avoided are:
Ageing is another fundamental factor for the development of cancer. The incidence of cancer rises dramatically with age, most likely due to a buildup of risks for specific cancers that increase with age. The overall risk accumulation is combined with the tendency for cellular repair mechanisms to be less effective as a person grows older.
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