Cancer can impact anyone and anywhere. Yet, there are specific cancers that seem to target women with greater intensity, often due to anatomical differences and other contributing factors. In the United States, cancer ranks as the second leading cause of death, surpassed only by heart disease. This alarming statistic translates to one in four American women succumbing to cancer.
Given the widespread impact of this disease, raising awareness becomes not only essential but empowering. This article aims to shed light on the three deadliest cancers affecting women in the United States, equipping women with knowledge to make informed decisions about their health.
Lung and Bronchus Cancer: A Silent Killer
Leading the roster of cancers impacting women is lung and bronchus cancer, responsible for over 61,000 female deaths annually. Although it’s not the most frequently diagnosed cancer among women, it claims more lives than any other. The primary instigator of lung cancer remains cigarette smoke, followed closely by radon gas exposure and secondhand smoke. In regions with deteriorating air quality, additional environmental factors such as hazardous chemicals and airborne particles also play a role in elevated diagnosis rates. Encouragingly, recent years have seen a decline in death rates, largely attributed to reduced smoking rates and advancements in treating non-small cell lung cancer.
Breast Cancer: A Universal Concern
Breast cancer ranks as the second most lethal cancer for women, accounting for approximately 43,250 deaths annually in the United States. It’s also the second most commonly diagnosed cancer among American women, trailing only skin cancer. While breast cancer can strike at any age, the risk escalates with advancing years. Multiple factors contribute to a woman’s susceptibility to breast cancer, including a family history of the disease, body weight, childbearing history, breastfeeding practices, and the use of birth control, particularly oral contraceptives. Lifestyle choices, such as exposure to cancer-causing chemicals, alcohol consumption, dietary patterns, and physical activity levels, further complicate the picture. Importantly, while there’s no foolproof method to prevent breast cancer, women have access to essential preventive measures. These encompass regular self-examinations, mammograms, and annual health evaluations administered by healthcare providers.
Colon and Rectum Cancer: The Quiet Threat
Colon and rectum cancer, commonly known as colorectal cancer or CRC, ranks as the third deadliest cancer among women in the United States. It claims the lives of over 24,180 women each year. This type of cancer affects both the large and small intestines, including the rectum. Risk factors for CRC are multifaceted, including age (particularly over 50), a family history of the disease, a personal history of polyps, and chronic inflammatory conditions in the intestines, such as ulcerative colitis or Crohn’s disease. Lifestyle choices, including smoking, heavy alcohol consumption, and diets low in fiber and high in fat, also contribute to elevated risk levels. Regular CRC screening, typically commencing in one’s 40s depending on individual risk factors, plays a pivotal role in early detection and prevention. Screening methods encompass stool-based tests and visual structural examinations, such as colonoscopies.
In conclusion, cancer awareness for women transcends mere knowledge; it’s an empowering tool for health and well-being. As women face these diseases at alarmingly high rates, education, regular screenings, and informed lifestyle choices take priority. While we continually strive for improved prevention and treatment strategies, let us never underestimate the profound impact of awareness on the lives of women. For more information, please look over the accompanying resource created by Natera, experts on breast cancer ctDNA.