Beyond Breast Cancer: Five Other Cancers That Affect Women

Let me just start off by saying that this is a really not fun article to write.

This is coming from a person who really likes to have fun and this…well, this is not fun.

Yeah, it might also be unpleasant to read through, but I have to write about all the ways cancer is killing thousands and thousands of women. Awesome. Considering I’m a woman who has a long family history of all different kinds of cancers…even more awesome.

Then there is the upside to writing this: I’m educating myself about all the scary facts of life. While I can’t guarantee that the 1% will be devouring all the facts written below, I’m hoping that the other 99% of us will use some of this as a launching pad. Women – actually, everyone – should want to know about the cause and effect of cancer on our bodies.

October takes the cake for bringing awareness to breast cancer, a cancer that deeply plagues the female population. The strides that breast cancer awareness month makes toward raising money and mindfulness both helps and hurts the rest of the cancer community.

Breast cancer is not the number one cancer-killer amongst women. (Whoa! No way?) Due to the fact that breast cancer is probably the most heavily publicized and marketed of any cancer, most women seem to think it must be the most dangerous. We’ve even heard from our favorite, most notable celebrities who have come forward and discussed their bouts with breast cancer.

The problem is we haven’t heard enough about the other forms of cancer out there that namely affect women. This means one of two things: luckily, women are not being diagnosed with these vehement cancer types or, unfortunately, those we could depend on to share stories lost their battles against cancer.

We can rely on current, cutting edge research, though. After scrolling through website after website after Facebook, I mean, uh, website…. I’ve found five cancers that shake women.

1. Lung Cancer

This cancer kills more people than any other type of cancer. A startling 70,354 out of 93,893 diagnosed women died from lung cancer in 2007. Can anyone guess the leading cause of this cancer? Yup, you betcha: cigarette smoking. To give you an idea of the intense growth of this cancer, between 1930 and 1997 the number of deaths caused by this cancer increased by 600%. Lung cancer is donned the leading cancer killer amongst all other forms of cancer but it is also the leading killer in women. At least 17% of women smoke and more than 500,000 teenage girls use tobacco products. Thinking about what you can do to avoid becoming another statistic? Cut the butts. It’s a nasty habit. (Our readers should know that being a cigarette smoker puts you at risk for this cancer regardless of your age.)

2. Colon Cancer

Also known as colorectal cancer, colon cancer is the third most common cancer killer in women. Predominantly found in men and women 50+, in ’07 almost 70,000 people were diagnosed and 26,215 women died. The upside about this cancer is that there are precautions that could slice death tolls in half. Remember to go for regular screening tests when you’re 50 and people are giving you birthday cards that say “Over the hill!” Think of it like an aged version of Little Red Riding Hood: Over the hill and through the woods to the colon screening tests I go, do, do, dooo…

3. Ovarian Cancer

We are beginning to hear a lot about the causes of gynecological cancers and their affect on women. In 2010, doctors estimated they would see a total of 21,990 new cases of this cancer diagnosed resulting in 15,460 deaths. To save you all the gory details of where this cancer forms (if you’re concerned or curious, you can do research anywhere on the web), this cancer occurs as women age. Doctors have said that women who experienced fertility issues, have not had any natural children or plan to have their first child after turning 30 are an increased risk. Women who have not shown any of those symptoms can still be at risk for this cancer.

4. Endometrial Cancer (Uterine Cancer)

Out of 46,470 new cases in 2010, the death toll of females will be 8,120. Again, this cancer most commonly affects women age 50 and older. This cancer is found in the lining of the uterus whereas ovarian cancer is found in the tissue of the ovaries. The scary thing about this type of gynecologic cancer (as well as all other forms forms) is that hormones from other medication can sometimes put women at risk for these cancer types.

5. Cervical Cancer

Another gynecologic cancer, this bad girl begins in the tissues of the cervix and is generally a slow-growing cancer. Unfortunately, because it is slow moving, many women may not show symptoms, but early detection can be found with regular Pap tests. Onset is almost always caused by the HPV infection and of 12,710 new diagnoses in 2011, 4,290 women will lose their battle against this cancer. The scary thing about this cancer? Any woman who is sexually active is at risk. Here is a big tip: in most cases, you need to have HPV, HIV, or AIDS in order to present with this type of cancer. Women who smoke regularly and do not go for regular Pap tests are also at risk. If you wrap it before you tap it, you automatically decrease the risk of transference during sexy time. No glove, no love when your health is on the line.

These are the five baddest girls around. However, the most interesting piece of research I found that ran rampant through each of these cancers is that prevention could nearly cut the number of fatalities by 50% or greater, depending on individual prognosis. I don’t mean to hate on breast cancer, because obviously it is important and women need to educate themselves about causes and prevention, but awareness shouldn’t only happen in October and only with breast cancer. What about making strides for all forms of cancer?

I know, I know. It’s a lot to swallow. But there are a couple quick tips to adjust your love-style and also your life. Buy tons of stuff to wrap it, so you never have to say ‘no’ when it comes time to tap it.  Quit smoking and take up knitting.  Have your babies pre-30 so that you can spend the rest of your life lamenting your once hot bod. And maybe most important: no glove, no love, no cancer.

I hope.

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