New Delhi: Most of us probably would know a family member or friend who has been diagnosed with some form of cancer in the past. Just the mention of the ‘C-word’ fills many of us with dread and anxiety. Understandably, even receiving a diagnosis of cancer can be extremely daunting. But the problem with cancer is it can strike anyone at any age irrespective of lifestyle choices made by an individual – meaning the dreaded disease can still hit you even if you live a healthy life and do your best, and without much warning.
What’s even more concerning about the disease is there’s still no cure for cancer, which is the second leading cause of death globally – nearly 1 in 6 deaths occur due to cancer. According to the World Health Organisation (WHO), cancer was responsible for 8.8 million deaths in 2015. Worldwide, cancer cases are rising at an alarming rate. The number of new cancer cases is expected to rise by about 70% over the next 2 decades. WHO estimates that by 2020, there will be 24 million people living with cancer in the world – from 14 million cases recorded worldwide in 2012 – if the current trend continues. As researchers continue to strive towards a cure for the disease, we bring you a list of the six most fatal types of cancer that has affected a large number of people worldwide:
Lung and bronchial cancer
Lung cancer is by far the leading cause of cancer death among both men and women worldwide, with an estimated 1.6 million deaths each year. Unfortunately, many people do not experience symptoms of lung cancer until it spreads to other areas of the body. Lung cancer mainly occurs in older people. However, cigarette smoking greatly increases your risk of developing lung cancer – it’s responsible for more than 90% of diagnoses. But just because you’ve never smoked doesn’t mean you’re safe. Breathing in toxic substances of any kind raises your risk. Air pollution is a leading cause of lung cancer. Figures on survival in people with lung cancer vary depending on the stage of the cancer when it is diagnosed.
Colorectal cancer may be one of the fatal cancers, with an estimated 774,000 deaths each year. But it’s also one of the most preventable cancers. It is the third most common cancer in men and the second most common cancer in women worldwide. Colorectal cancer occurs when abnormal growths, called polyps, form in the colon or the rectum. While the growths don’t always become cancerous, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says it’s a possibility. There are many risk factors associated with colorectal cancer, but your chances of getting the disease increases as you get older (more than 90% of cases occur in people who are 50 years old or older. That’s why regular colon screenings after the age of 50 are recommended.
According to the WHO, breast cancer caused 571,000 deaths in 2015 and is top cancer in women globally. In India, where breast cancer has become the most common form of cancer among Indian women, the disease is found in women who are in their late 20s and early 30s. While breast cancer is the second leading cause of cancer death for women, men can also be at risk. As with all cancer, family history plays a big role here. Health experts suggest that all women over the age of 30 should be tested for faulty genes, even if they are not considered at risk.
This type of cancer is the second-leading cause of cancer deaths in men and often shows no warning signs until tumour has already progressed to a more advanced stage. Prostate cancer is a type of cancer that occurs in a man’s prostate — a small walnut-shaped gland in men that produces the seminal fluid. This cancer is also making a steep rise among Indian men. According to Indian National Cancer Registry, the incidence of prostate cancer in the country will rise by 220% by 2020. It is not surprising that prostate cancer is one of the most prevalent cancers among men worldwide. Age and family history are major risk factors that may cause prostate cancer. In most cases, the cancer is diagnosed in men over 50 years of age.
Often referred to as a ‘silent killer’ as it is seldom detected in its early stage, pancreatic cancer is the fourth leading cause of cancer deaths, being responsible for 7% of all cancer-related deaths in both men and women. Pancreatic cancer is a rare and an aggressive type of cancer that spreads rapidly to nearby organs, making it one of the deadliest forms of cancer. It begins in the organ lying behind the lower part of the stomach – the pancreas. Pancreatic survival rates are lower than any other cancer – 93% of people detected with the disease do not survive beyond five years.
As with other cancers, living a simple life, consuming simple and healthy food and staying active by exercising regularly can help prevent or reduce the risk of cancer.
Liver cancer is one of the most common forms of cancer around the world, claiming 788,000 lives each year. Liver cancer occurs when unhealthy cells in the organ grow and spread. Hepatitis B and C infections are linked closely to liver cancer because they can also lead to cirrhosis, which is when healthy liver tissue is replaced with scar tissue. Cutting down on your alcohol consumption can help prevent alcohol-related liver disease.