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Cancer and Women

Photo of three womenEvery year, cancer claims the lives of more than a quarter of a million women in America. You can lower your cancer risk in several ways.

What You Can Do

  • Don’t smoke, and avoid secondhand smoke. More women in the United States die from lung cancer than any other kind of cancer, and cigarette smoking causes most cases.
  • Get recommended screening tests for breast, cervical, and colorectal cancer. Screening tests are the best way to find these cancers early, when they are easier to treat.
  • Protect your skin from the sun and avoid indoor tanning. Skin cancer is the most common cancer in the United States. Most cases of melanoma, the deadliest kind of skin cancer, are caused by exposure to ultraviolet (UV) light from the sun and tanning devices.
  • Stay active and keep a healthy weight. Adopting a lifestyle that includes healthy eating and regular physical activity can help lower your risk for several kinds of cancer.

Fast Facts About Cancer and Women

  • The most common kinds of cancer among women in the U.S. are skin cancer, breast cancer, lung cancer, colorectal cancer, and uterine cancer.
  • Cancer survivors largely consist of people who are 65 years of age or older and women. Of the 11.7 million people living with cancer in 2007, 6.3 million were women, and the largest group of cancer survivors were breast cancer survivors (22%).
  • People who have cancer often live at home and get help from informal caregivers—people who help them without being paid. The majority of caregivers are women.
  • Some HPV-associated cancers can be prevented. The HPV vaccine is available for girls and women who are 9 to 26 years old. It protects against the types of HPV that most often cause cervical cancer.
  • Most breast cancers are found in women who are 50 years old or older, but breast cancer also affects younger women.

Featured Resources

A photo of Sharon McKenna enjoying a sunny day“I learned the hard way: a tan is not a sign of health,” writes melanoma survivor Sharon McKenna in this blog post.

Bring Your Brave campaign's infographic: What Every Young Woman Needs to Know About Hereditary Breast and Ovarian CancerThis infographic explains what young women need to know about hereditary breast and ovarian cancer.

Cervical cancer can be prevented podcast Cervical cancer can be prevented. Listen as two friends—one a doctor—talk about symptoms and screening tests.

Tanned Skin Is Not Healthy Skin poster Our “Tanned Skin Is Not Healthy Skin” poster explains that every time you tan, you increase your risk of melanoma.

Lung Cancer Disease of the Week

Test your knowledge about lung cancer with a simple quiz on our Disease of the Week application!

Gynecologic Cancer Comprehensive Brochure The Gynecologic Cancer Comprehensive Brochure explains the symptoms and risk factors for each type of gynecologic cancer.

Photo of Meryl Streep

In this TV public service announcement, actress Meryl Streep urges adults who are 50 or older to get screened for colorectal cancer.

Breast Cancer: What You Need to Know fact sheet

Our “Breast Cancer: What You Need to Know” fact sheet [PDF-527KB] lists risk factors, symptoms, and screening recommendations.

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