Colorectal cancer is one of the most common causes of cancer death in women, surpassed only by lung and breast cancer. Risk is increased if there’s a family history of colorectal cancer or polyps. Lack of exercise and eating a high-fat, low-fiber diet also increases the risk. Early detection can come from a digital rectal exam and fecal occult blood test. There has been some evidence in recent studies to suggest that hormone replacement therapy and taking nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs such as aspirin and ibuprofen may reduce the risk of colorectal cancer.
This type of cancer is most common in women over the age of 50. Although relatively rare-it accounts for only about four percent of all cancers in women-it’s difficult to diagnose in the early stages. Consequently, it causes more deaths than any other cancer of the female reproductive system. It often produces no symptoms in the early stages, or the symptoms are vague and easily misdiagnosed as gastrointestinal problems. A Pap test will not detect ovarian cancer. However, a careful pelvic exam can identify enlarged ovaries. Ultrasound, bone scans, a chest X-ray, laparoscopy and testing of various body fluids are all common methods for further detection.
In the United States, the incidence of skin cancer in women has risen by 36 percent since 1960. It’s the most common type of cancer in people 25 to 29 years of age. The biggest risk factor for developing skin cancer is exposure to sunlight, especially during childhood and adolescence. Several peeling, blistering sunburns before the age of 20 increase the risk for skin cancer later in life. Women who are fair-skinned or have a family history of cancerous moles are more prone to developing skin cancer. Avoid exposure to sunlight when the rays are most intense (between 10 a.m. and 2 p.m.) and always use sunscreen that will block both ultraviolet B (UVB) and ultraviolet A (UVA) rays.
The incidence of women developing lung cancer has continued to increase. Since 1987 more women have died each year from lung cancer than breast cancer. Cigarette smoking is by far the most significant risk factor for lung cancer. Exposure to arsenic, asbestos, radiation, air pollution, tuberculosis, radon and secondhand smoke also increases the risk. Because symptoms don’t often appear until the disease is advanced, early detection is difficult. If you smoke, stop now. If not, don’t start.
This type of cancer is rare, accounting for about three percent of all tumors of the female reproductive organs. It’s most common in postmenopausal women. A small, hard, itchy lump in the skin or the vulva, or a vulvar ulcer with raised edges, bleeding or seeping fluid are indicators. Vulvar cancer generally grows slowly. Early treatment usually means a complete cure. Surgery is often necessary and is sometimes accompanied by radiation therapy.
HOW TO REDUCE YOUR RISK OF DEVELOPING CANCER
- get regular exercise
- avoid exposure to the sun’s rays eat a well-balanced diet high in fiber and low in fat and cholesterol
- don’t smoke and limit your exposure to secondhand tobacco smoke
- avoid unnecessary X-rays
- have regular cancer screenings as recommended by your doctor
- drink alcoholic beverages in moderation