Cancer Facts & Figures

This year, about 569,490 Americans are expected to die of cancer, more than 1,500 people a day. Cancer is the second most common cause of death in the US, exceeded only by heart disease. In the US, cancer accounts for nearly 1 of every 4 deaths.  Cancer is non-discriminating: it affects people from all walks of life, from very young children to the elderly. It affects people of every race, gender, creed, nationality, and income level.

In all, there are more than 200 different types of cancer that can affect the human body. Each one is caused as a result of genetic or environmental changes, or both. A large percentage of people will be affected by some form of cancer or other in their lifetime. Some types of cancer are more serious than others. Because each type of cancer is so different, it is not likely there will ever be a single screening or diagnostic test or treatment for all types. There is a wide array of treatments available. Some can be treated more easily than others, and the survival rate varies among types.

There are two general categories of cancer. Carcinomas are cancers that develop on the surface linings of the organs. Sarcinomas are cancers that develop in the cells. Sarcinomas affect solid tissues such as muscle and bone. They can also develop in the blood vessels.  Cancer is a process – a series of events that begin at the molecular level in the human body and continue through a journey that patients and healthcare providers must take to deal with the personal and medical ramifications of this disease. 

The human body is made up of tiny cells. Each of these cells contains genes. Proteins inside these genes regulate the division and multiplication of the cells. If a gene becomes damaged, the cells can continually grow and divide without stopping. If too many of these damaged cells form together, they can grow into a tumor.  For various possible reasons, cells that were once healthy undergo changes that trigger them to multiply uncontrollably.

Tumors can either be malignant or benign. Malignant tumors are the serious cancers. They can multiply and spread throughout the body's tissues and organs. Not all types of cancer form tumors. Cancers of the blood, such as leukemia, attack other areas of the body through the bloodstream.

Many of the causes of certain types of cancer are known. Contributing factors to cell damage include smoking, high exposure to the sun and an unhealthy diet. It has been proven that many types of cancer, such as breast cancer, are hereditary. There are also links between cancer and obesity or a lack of exercise.

The symptoms of cancer vary according to the form of the disease. The different types of cancer usually have a few common symptoms. These may include weight loss, lethargy and strange lumps or swellings. Cancer may also produce night sweats, fever and anemia. These symptoms can all be caused by other illnesses, so it is important to consult a doctor as early as possible if you suffer from any of them.

The form of cancer treatment chosen will depend on how advanced the cancer is and the type of cancer present. There are three main types of cancer treatment. Surgery is used to remove solid tumors. This treatment is commonly used in the early stages of cancer.

Chemotherapy is used to treat various types of cancer using medication. Drugs are used to shrink tumors or kill cancerous cells. Radiotherapy consists of using radiation from x-rays to destroy cancerous cells. All three treatments have a higher success rate in reducing or killing cancer if the disease is caught early enough. The survival rates are as follows:

Prostate Cancer has a 99% survival rate at 5 years and even after 20 years is still 81%.  Thyroid Cancer is next at 96%, just above Testicular Cancer which is at 95%. Melanoma is 4th at 89%,  closely followed by Breast Cancer at 86%. Many would be surprised to see that Breast Cancer is in the top 5.  It has good survival rates, but it is still responsible for thousands of deaths, since it is a very common form of cancer.  It is also important to note that the reasons these figures are so good, is because of the modern cancer treatments available today.


Cancer of the Pancreas has the unfortunate title of the Most Deadly Cancer with 5 year survival rates at 4%. This is the form of cancer that took the life of actor Patrick Swayze in 2009. Liver and Bile Duct cancers are at 8% and Cancer of the Esophagus is 14%. Lung cancer gives a 15% chance of survival at 5 years leaving Stomach cancer to round out the bottom 5 with 24%. It is not hard to see why so much has been done to decrease the rates of smoking in society. Apart from directly affecting the lung tissue, smoking raises the risk of cancer in many other parts of the body as well.

 The Best 5 Year Survival Rates




"Every journey in life always begins with a single step." ~Salvatore Pascarelli



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