Certain cancers are of specific concern to women. These include not only cancer of the female organs, such as the breast, cervix, womb (uterus), and ovary; but also of the pancreas, large bowel (colorectal cancer), and lung.
Breast cancer is the second leading cause of cancer deaths among women. In the U.S., a woman has a 12.4% chance of developing breast cancer in her lifetime. Research studies show that the smaller the breast cancer is when it is detected, the greater the chance of survival. Currently, mammography and breast examinations serve as the recommended screening tests for breast cancer. The discovery of inherited gene mutations permits the identification of at least some women at increased risk for developing breast cancer.
Cancer involving the ovaries is also referred to as ovarian cancer. Because ovarian cancer is very difficult to detect in its early stages, it is often referred to as the “silent killer.” Although ovarian cancer can occur at any age, a woman’s risk gradually increases over time, and it is significantly higher if there is a history of ovarian cancer in the family. One in every 70 females in the U.S. develops ovarian cancer.
Colorectal cancer is cancer of the large intestine. Most cases of colorectal cancer occur in people over 50 years of age. A woman with a history of cancer of the breast, uterus, or ovary has an increased risk for colorectal cancer. Regular screening is recommended for all women over 50 years of age. Research studies show that eating a diet rich in fruits and vegetables, as well as supplementing the diet with antioxidants may help reduce a woman’s risk of developing not only colorectal cancer but a number of other cancers as well.
Lung cancer is the leading cause of cancer deaths among women. As smoking is the primary cause of lung cancer, it should be obvious that abstinence from smoking is a significant way to avoid this dreaded disease. Smoking cessation is essential in minimizing the damage already caused by smoking and optimizing long-term health.