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The Facts About Common Cancers Are Scary, but They Might Save a Life

Sarah grew up in Monterey, CA and now lives in Los Angeles. When she's not writing, you can find her enjoying a good book, fine wine, sunflowers and long walks on the beach.

Learning the signs & risk factors of the most common cancers is the first step in prevention

Cancer. You'd be hard-pressed nowadays to find a person who hasn't been affected by it, whether it's a family member who has been diagnosed or if they have been diagnosed themselves. For most of us, cancer is a scary business, and it's hard to even make our minds go there — but by educating ourselves about the most common cancers, we can stay ahead of the curve when it comes prevention and detection.

According to the American Cancer Society, 1,688,780 new cases of cancer will be diagnosed in 2017. Let's take a look at the cancers that are estimated to be the most diagnosed this year, as reported on the American Cancer Society's most recent facts and figures annual report.

1. Breast cancer

Unsurprisingly, breast cancer is predicted to be the most commonly diagnosed cancer among women in the coming year, with 252,710 women and 2,470 men expected to receive a new diagnosis. Breast cancer is the second-leading cause of cancer deaths among women.

Breast cancer is common, but it can be easier to detect that other cancers. According to the American Cancer Society, a lump or mass is the most common symptom, but other breast changes (such as thickening, swelling, distortion, tenderness, skin irritation, redness, scaliness, nipple abnormalities and discharge) should be reported to a doctor.

More: Julia Louis-Dreyfus Announces Breast Cancer Diagnosis

2. Prostate cancer

The American Cancer Society estimated 161,360 new cases of prostate cancer will be diagnosed in 2017, and it was the second-most frequently diagnosed cancer among men last year (skin cancer was No. 1). The risk of prostate cancer is higher in black men (74 percent higher, to be exact), but researchers haven't been able to pinpoint why.

Prostate cancer is the third-leading cause of cancer death among men.

Early prostate cancer has no symptoms, so regular exams are imperative. Once the disease has advanced, men may experience weak or interrupted urine flow, frequent urination, difficulty stopping and starting urine flow, blood in the urine, and pain or burning during urination. Very advanced prostate cancer may spread to the bones, which can cause pain in the hips, spine, ribs and other areas.

3. Lung and bronchus

Lung cancer doesn't discriminate — it is the second-most commonly diagnosed cancer among men and women in the United States, says the American Cancer Society. There will be an estimated 116,990 male diagnoses and 105,510 female diagnoses this year. It's also predicted that lung cancer will account for 25 percent of all cancer diagnoses made in 2017.

Lung cancer is the leading cause of cancer death in both men and women. Eighty percent of lung cancer deaths in the United States are caused by smoking.

Symptoms don't usually occur until the cancer is advanced, and include persistent cough, sputum streaked with blood, chest pain, voice change, worsening shortness of breath and recurrent pneumonia or bronchitis.

4. Colorectal

With an estimated 71,420 new male and 64,010 new female cases predicted for 2017, colorectal cancers are third on the most common list for both sexes. An estimated 52,260 deaths from colorectal cancer will occur this year.

Unfortunately, like lung and prostate cancer, colorectal cancer can be hard to detect in its early stages, which may account for its high mortality rate. Symptoms include rectal bleeding, blood in the stool, a change in bowel habits or shape, the feeling that the bowel is not completely empty, cramping pain in the lower abdomen, decreased appetite or weight loss, according to the American Cancer Society.

5. Uterine corpus

An estimated 61,380 women will be diagnosed with uterine cancer in 2017, which is sometimes referred to as endometrial cancer. The American Cancer Society also estimates 10,920 deaths due to the cancer.

Abnormal bleeding is often an early sign of this type of cancer. Women are encouraged to report any abnormal bleeding or spotting to their physicians, especially if they are postmenopausal.

More: 10 Cancers Signs You're Ignoring

6. Bladder

Bladder cancer is four times more common in men than women, and almost two times higher in white men than black men. An estimated 79,030 new cases will be diagnosed in 2017, 60,490 of those being men, says the American Cancer Society.

Blood in the urine is a common symptom of urinary bladder cancer. Other symptoms include increased urgency or more frequent urination or pain and irritation during urination.

7. Melanoma (skin cancer)

An estimated 87,110 skin cancer diagnoses will be made this year, says the ACS report. Skin cancer is the most frequently diagnosed cancer in the United States.

Warning signs of all skin cancers include changes in the size, shape or color of a mole or other skin lesion, the appearance of a new growth on the skin or a sore that doesn't heal.

8. Thyroid

Thyroid cancer is most common in females, and the American Cancer Society predicts 42,470 women will be diagnosed this year.

A lump in the neck is the most common symptom of thyroid cancer. Other symptoms include a tight or full feeling in the neck, difficulty breathing or swallowing, hoarseness, swollen lymph nodes and pain in the neck or throat that doesn't go away.

9. Kidney and renal

An estimated 63,990 kidney and renal cancer diagnosis will be made in 2017, and the American Cancer Society predicts 14,400 deaths from kidney cancer will occur.

Like colorectal cancer, kidney cancer usually doesn't have any symptoms in its early stages. As the tumor progresses, symptoms may include blood in the urine, a pain or lump in the lower back or abdomen, fatigue, weight loss, fever or swelling in the legs and ankles.

10. Non-Hodgkin's lymphoma

The American Cancer Society predicts there will be 40,080 new male non-Hodgkin's lymphoma cases and 32,160 female cases this year (the seventh-most common cancer for both sexes).

One of the common symptoms of non-Hodgkin's lymphoma is swollen lymph nodes. Other symptoms include lumps under the skin, chest pain, shortness of breath, abdominal fullness and loss of appetite, itching, night sweats, fatigue, unexplained weight loss and intermittent fever.

To learn more about the various types of cancer, causes, symptoms and treatment options, visit cancer.org and cancer.gov.

Originally published January 2013. Updated September 2017.

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