These Are the 15 Most Common Types of Cancer

In all forms, it's a disease 15 million Americans are living with.

These Are the 15 Most Common Types of Cancer

In all forms, it's a disease 15 million Americans are living with.

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In 2017, according to American Cancer Society research, nearly 601,000 Americans died of cancer—or, put another way, just short of 1,650 people daily. Among causes of death in the United States, cancer is surpassed only by heart disease. What’s more, recent estimates indicate that about 15 million Americans are living with some form of cancer today. It’s a sobering thought—that few among us are no more than a degree or two of separation from someone living with a malignant, life-threatening, indiscriminately deadly condition. To call it an epidemic wouldn’t be a hyperbolic statement.

Not all of the news is so grim, however. Over the past 30-odd years, the medical community has made significant progress. Thanks to technological advancements and the proliferation of progressive treatments, the relative survival rate—which is defined as people who survive for five or more years after diagnosis—has increased about 20 percent across the board, bringing the figure up to 68 percent. All told, that amounts to more than 2 million fewer cancer deaths than figures from the late 1990s. And for certain cancers (prostate, thyroid), the rate hovers around the 99 percent mark. In short, when it comes to beating cancer, our society is undeniably on the up-and-up.

Still, it’s good to keep some perspective; though certainly less common, the disease is still out there, ravaging. What follows is a list, per World Cancer Research Fund International data, of the most common types of cancer in the world. (All figures are from 2012, the latest year for which full data is available.) And to increase your chances of dodging the disease altogether, be sure to avoid the 20 Everyday Habits That Increase Your Cancer Risk.

lung cancer ribbon

1
Lung

New diagnoses (2012): 1,825,000

Percent of cancer cases (global): 13

Despite a precipitous drop in smoking rates, lung cancer is still the deadliest. According to the American Cancer Society, about a third of the 600,000 U.S. cancer deaths can be directly linked to cigarette smoking. The single best thing you can do to prevent lung cancer—and this warrants repeating ad infinitum—is to quit. For good.

prevent breast cancer

2
Breast

New diagnoses (2012): 1,677,000

Percent of cancer cases (global): 11.9

You’re significantly more likely to develop breast cancer if you’re a woman; less than 1 percent of new diagnoses of breast cancer are for men. To help prevent the disease, learn the 40 Ways to Prevent Breast Cancer After 40.

Colon cancer

3
Colorectum

New diagnoses (2012): 1,361,000

Percent of cancer cases (global): 9.7

Your risk of developing colorectum—or colon, as it’s more colloquially referred—skyrockets after you turn 50. If you experience frequent, serious stomach pain or start seeing sudden changes in your bowel movements, visit your doctor.

Movemember is about men's prostate health. types of cancer

4
Prostate

New diagnoses (2012): 1,112,000

Percent of cancer cases (global): 7.9

In certain cases of prostate cancer, according to the Mayo Clinic, the disease “may not cause serious harm.” However, if you experience any difficulty peeing or spot even a speck of blood in your semen, it’s time to get checked out. For more on prostate cancer, read more about what it’s like to live with it day-to-day.

habits after 40 types of cancer

5
Stomach

New diagnoses (2012): 952,000

Percent of cancer cases (global): 9.7

Also known as gastric cancer, this condition can fly under the radar for years. But if there’s a sudden onset of severe indigestion, inexplicable nausea, or irrepressible heartburn, that may be a bad sign.

liver cancer

6
Liver

New diagnoses (2012): 782,000

Percent of cancer cases (global): 5.6

Liver cancer, though frightfully common, is more preventable than other types of cancer. According to the American Cancer Society, “excess alcohol consumption” is a leading cause of the condition. To see if you’re drinking too much, take our boozing habits questionnaire.

doctors office types of cancer

7
Cervix uteri

New diagnoses (2012): 528,000

Percent of cancer cases (global): 3.7

Cervix uteri, or cervical, cancer can occur in women as young as 14 years old, and is caused by, among other factors, four strains of the human papillomavirus (HPV). Be sure to get all three of your HPV vaccine shots—and to get regular PAP smears.

throat cancer

8
Oesophagus

New diagnoses (2012): 456,000

Percent of cancer cases (global): 3.2

Among smoking-related cancers, lung cancer is the most common. Oesophagus cancer—also known more commonly as esophageal carcinoma—is a close second. Again, quit smoking.

bladder cancer

9
Bladder

New diagnoses (2012): 430,000

Percent of cancer cases (global): 3.1

More men than women are diagnosed with bladder cancer, but the condition afflicts folks of all genders—typically in middle-age and older adults, though. If you experience blood in your pee, it’s time to see a doctor.

Sneezing types of cancer

10
Non-Hodgkin lymphoma

New diagnoses (2012): 386,000

Percent of cancer cases (global): 2.7

Non-Hodgkin lymphoma occurs when cancerous cells attack your body’s lymphatic system, or the part of your immune system that helps combat infections. Many symptoms—a persistent cough, regular stomach pain, rapid weight fluctuation—are symptoms of other conditions, so, to determine if you’re afflicted, it’s best to undergo a lymph node exam.

blood types of cancer

11
Leukemia

New diagnoses (2012): 352,000

Percent of cancer cases (global): 2.5

Leukemia, also known as blood cancer, afflicts people of all ages; indeed, though highly unusual, people can even be born with it. (Thankfully, according to the folks at the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute, is highly treatable and even curable with aggressive treatment.) Since leukemia can take on many different forms—acute or chronic, myelogenous or lymphocyctic, and that just scratches the surface—it’s tough to diagnose. Generally, an initial blood test can give insight as to whether you have it or not.

kidney cancer

12
Kidney

New diagnoses (2012): 338,000

Percent of cancer cases (global): 2.4

Kidney cancer and pancreatic cancer are, per the most recently available figures, equally common. Unlike other cancers, which can be treated through radiation and chemotherapy, kidney cancer is typically treated via surgical removal of malignant tumors in the kidney—or, in extreme cases, of the entire organ.

pancreatic cancer ribbon

13
Pancreatic

New diagnoses (2012): 338,000

Percent of cancer cases (global): 2.4

Pancreatic cancer most commonly occurs in elderly people. But if you experience sudden-onset diabetes (and have no family history for diabetes) or experience recurring abdominal pain that radiates to your spine, either could be a sign of pancreatic cancer.woman with cancer

14
Corpus uteri

New diagnoses (2012): 320,000

Percent of cancer cases (global): 2.3

According to the Welsh Cancer Intelligence and Surveillance Unit, the cause of corpus uteri, or endometrial, cancer is largely unknown. However, women who are 50 and older, overweight, and have high blood pressure are at increased risk. If you’re concerned about lowering your BP levels, try out the 10 Best Ways to Lower Your Blood Pressure.

quitting smoking types of cancer

15
Lip/Oral

New diagnoses (2012): 338,000

Percent of cancer cases (global): 2.1

Remember when we mentioned “ad infinitum?” Once more: Quit smoking.

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