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Risk of Developing Cancer

By Lisa Schulmeister, MN, RN, ACNS-BC, OCN, FAAN
News media have reported the statistic that one in two people in the United Kingdom (U.K.) will be diagnosed with cancer at some point in their lives. Most people seem surprised by this statistic; however, for years now, the likelihood of developing cancer in the U.K., U.S.A, and especially developing countries, has been rather high and continues to rise. In its 2015 publication on cancer statistics, the American Cancer Society (ACS) prepared a table on the lifetime probability of developing and dying from 23 types of cancer.

For men, there is a 43.3% chance of developing cancer at any of the 23 sites, which the ACS states is a “1 in 2” risk. The chance of dying from cancer for men is 22.8% or “1 in 4.” For women, the chance of developing cancer is 37.8% or “1 in 3” and the chance of dying is 19.3% or “1 in 5.” For men, prostate cancer continues to be the cancer most likely to occur, and lung cancer continues to be the type of cancer that causes the most deaths among men. Breast cancer continues to be the most common cancer among women, and lung cancer causes the most deaths. The statistics haven’t really changed all that much, but what has changed is the use of the “one in two people will get cancer” message. Hopefully this has encouraged people to consider ways to reduce their chance of developing cancer, such as quitting smoking, eating a healthy diet, and avoiding obesity.
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