Facts About Cancer
Our bodies are made of cells, which are constantly duplicating themselves to replace old worn out and dying cells. This process is carefully controlled by the cell's genetic material (its DNA) and other elements to ensure that the cells do not reproduce faster than the old cells wear out. However, occasionally a cell's DNA can become damaged in such a way that it begins reproducing at an abnormal rate. This is what creates a cancer cell.
If the body's natural brakes are turned off, cancer cells grow and multiply without stopping until they form a mass large enough for us to either see or feel directly or detect with special screening tests. Depending on the cancer, it can take years for the mass to grow to a size where it is noticeable in this way.
Cancer diagnosis is different from detection.
When a cancer is found through either a physical exam or a routine screening test such as a mammogram or colonoscopy, the first step is determining what type of cancer it is and how advanced it is.
If you are reading this page because you, your primary care doctor or a routine screening test detected a cancer, you may be wondering how diagnosis works. The cancer information in this section will help you prepare for your treatment. However, it is not meant to replace the individual attention, advice and treatment plan of your oncologist and medical team.
- There will be an estimated 165,810 new cancer cases in California for 2012.
- In 2012 approximately 577,190 Americans will die of cancer.
- Cancer is the second most common-cause of death in the US - first being heart disease.
- The five year survival rate is 67% for patients diagnosed with cancer between 2001-2007.
- In 2012 an estimated 173,200 cancer deaths will be caused by tobacco.
- 77% of all cancers are diagnosed in persons 55 years and older.
- The National institute of Health estimates that the overall costs of cancer in 2007 were $226.8 billion USD.
- There is an estimated 284,680 new cancer cases related to the digestive system in 2012.
- Prostate cancer (29%) is the leading new cancer cases for males and breast cancer (29%) for women in 2012.
- Child cancers are rare but there will be an estimated 12,060 new cases in 2012.
- An estimated 20,550 liver deaths are expected in 2012.
- Lung cancer accounts for more deaths than any other cancers, an estimated 160,640 deaths are expected in the US for 2012.