Top 10 Cancer FAQs
Reviewed by Melissa Conrad Stöppler, MD
- Cancer is the result of the uncontrolled growth of abnormal cells anywhere in the body. True or false?
- About how many types of cancer are there?
- Across the globe, what is the most common type of cancer that kills men?
- Worldwide, what is the most common cancer that kills women?
- What is the most common form of cancer in all humans?
- Tobacco causes what percentage of cancer deaths around the world?
- What viruses cause cancer as a result of chronic infection?
- Artificial sweeteners are linked to certain kinds of cancers. True or false?
- What kind of foods are linked to colon cancer?
- What is the most deadly of all cancers of the female reproductive system?
- There are many signs and symptoms of cancer. True or false?
- What is the name for cancers of the blood?
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Q:Cancer is the result of the uncontrolled growth of abnormal cells anywhere in the body. True or false?
Cancer results from the uncontrolled growth of abnormal cells anywhere in the body (blood, brain, bone, or any organ) and many of these abnormal cells are capable of invading other tissues.
Cancers are often named for the organ or cell type where the abnormal cells first develop. Terms such as liver cancer, lung cancer, brain cancer, and many others refer to where the abnormal cells started to develop. When these cancer cells leave their original developmental site they are termed metastatic cancer.
Q:About how many types of cancer are there?
A:There are more than 100 types of cancer.
Any part of the body can be affected and symptoms depend on the type of cancer and which organs contain cancer cells. Treatment of cancers may include surgery, radiation, and chemotherapy, or combinations of these treatments.
Q:Across the globe, what is the most common type of cancer that kills men?
A:The most common type of cancer that kills men is lung cancer.
According to the World Health Organization (WHO), the top five most common types of cancer that kill men are, in order of frequency, lung cancer, stomach cancer, liver cancer, colorectal cancer, and esophageal cancer.
Q:Worldwide, what is the most common cancer that kills women?
A:According to WHO statistics, the most common type of cancer that kills women worldwide is breast cancer.
The five most common cancers that kill women are, in order of frequency, breast cancer, lung cancer, stomach cancer, colorectal cancer, and cervical cancer. In some developing countries cervical cancer is the most common cancer found in women.
Q:What is the most common form of cancer in all humans?
A:The most common form of cancer overall in both men and women is skin cancer.
Ultraviolet light, which is part of sunlight, is the main cause of skin cancers. There are three main types of skin cancer: basal cell carcinoma, squamous cell carcinoma, and melanoma. Skin sores that will not heal and changes in appearance of the skin in localized areas such as a new growth and/or skin color changes are common warning signs of skin cancer. Such changes in the appearance of the skin that last longer than a couple of weeks should be evaluated by your physician.
Q:Tobacco causes what percentage of cancer deaths around the world?
A:About 22% of all cancer deaths are related to the use of tobacco.
Consequently, they comprise the single largest group of cancer deaths that are potentially preventable.
Q:What viruses cause cancer as a result of chronic infection?
A:About 20% of all cancers that occur worldwide are caused by chronic infections mainly caused by the human papilloma virus (HPV) and hepatitis B virus (HBV).
HPV viruses can cause cervical, oropharyngeal (pertaining to the mouth and pharynx), penile, vaginal, and other types of cancer while HBV is associated with developing liver cancer.
A vaccine is available against HPV; the vaccine can help reduce the chance of getting cancers caused by HPV virus. Similarly, a vaccine is also available against HBV and can reduce or prevent HBV infections and the cancers associated with HBV infections (for example, liver cancer caused by HBV).
Q:Artificial sweeteners are linked to certain kinds of cancers. True or false?
There isn't any evidence artificial sweeteners cause cancer. Other sugar substitutes such as sorbitol and stevia also apparently do not cause cancer.
Q:What kind of foods are linked to colon cancer?
A:Processed foods are linked to colon cancer.
Meat processing involves the addition of preservatives like sodium nitrite or products that enhance color and flavor. The meat is also sometimes smoked, which may also create compounds that might increase cancer risk. Studies have shown that consuming large amounts of processed meat is associated with an increased risk of developing colorectal cancer. One potential explanation for this association is that nitrites are added to many lunch meats, hot dogs, ham products, and other processed meats.
Q:What is the most deadly of all cancers of the female reproductive system?
A:Ovarian cancer is the most deadly of all cancers of the female reproductive system.
This is because most ovarian cancers are not detected early and the cancer cells have spread beyond the ovaries to the pelvis and lymph nodes when they are first detected. Unfortunately, symptoms of ovarian cancers often only appear in the late stages of ovarian cancers (late-stage cancers are difficult to treat).
Q:There are many signs and symptoms of cancer. True or false?
Cancer is a varied disease that can cause many different signs and symptoms, depending upon the type of cancer and its location in the body. The size and aggressiveness of the cancer also may determine the type of symptoms that it causes. Cancers can invade or distort normal organs, nerves, and blood vessels, causing signs and symptoms related to the specific parts of the body involved. Generalized symptoms like fever, fatigue, and weight loss are also common with many cancers, particularly cancers that have spread beyond their site of origin.
Q:What is the name for cancers of the blood?
A:Cancers that result from abnormal growth of cells in the blood are termed leukemia.
The majority of people diagnosed with leukemia are over 50 years old although leukemia can occur in children. The most common type of leukemia found in children is acute lymphocytic leukemia (ALL).
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