Top 5 Leading Cancers Affecting Women

There are various types of cancer with those affecting women that appear to have direct links with lifestyle choices, environment and family medical history.

No one can control his/her family medical history, and only a few aspects of the environment can be changed.

But you can maneuver through your lifestyle choices such as diet, weight, smoking and activity level.

According to Richard R. Barakat, MD, chief of the gynecology service at Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center in NYC, most people underutilize preventive measures.

CDC statistics indicate that one in every three women will develop cancer at one stage in their lives. The most common types of cancer include:

1. Breast Cancer

This is the most common type of cancer that affects women. It is estimated that more than 25% of cancer cases diagnosed in women are breast cancer and kills more than 15% every year.

If you are a woman, your odds of suffering from this type of cancer is 1 in 8.

Breast cancer usually occurs as a malignant tumor that starts to develop in cells of the breast.

It may start as a single tumor or a hard and painless lump on your breast or underarm.

It can spread to another area of your body from the original tumor site.

Risk factors of breast cancer include age (above 55 years), family history, dense breast tissue, birth control pills or postmenopausal hormone therapy.

2. Lung Cancer

Also known as bronchus cancer, lung cancer accounts for 14% of all female cancer cases and kills 26% of those suffering from the condition.

One in every sixteen women is likely to suffer from bronchus cancer. Lung cancer can form on any area of the lung although most cases occur from epithelial cells, which lines the larger and smaller airways.

This type of cancer can arise from the pleura or supporting tissues within your lungs, like the blood vessels.

You are at an increased risk of suffering from lung cancer if you are a smoker than for nonsmokers.

You are also likely to suffer from this condition if you stay near those people who smoke.

Other risk factors include excessive use of alcohol tar, soot, arsenic, and radon gas.

suffering from lung cancer

3. Colorectal Cancer

Colorectal cancer accounts for 10% of all cancer cases reported in women. It kills 9% of those affected.

Your odds of suffering from colorectal cancer if you are a woman is 1 in 19.

Colorectal cancer affects large intestines or the lower part of your digestive system.

It starts as small noncancerous clumps of cells known as adenomatous polyps which eventually develop into cancer.

You are at increased risk of suffering from colorectal cancer if you are obese or overweight and live a sedentary lifestyle without exercising regularly.

Other risk factors are smoking, family history of colorectal cancer, excessive use of alcohol, low-fiber diet and inactivity.

4. Uterine Cancer

Uterine cancer accounts for 6% of all cases of cancer and kills 3% of people suffering from the condition.

Though uncommon, one in every 41 women will suffer from uterine cancer. This cancer affects the uterus, the hollow pear-shaped organ located in the pelvis, where the fetus develops.

It can form on uterine muscles or tissues supporting the uterus. You are at an increased risk of uterine cancer if you are exposed to x-rays like past treatments with radiation around your pelvis or if you use certain medications for treating breast cancer.

Other risk factors are greater than average menstrual periods, estrogen therapy, no pregnancies, obesity, diabetes, old age, family history, and thickening of uterine walls among others.

Uterine Cancer

5. Non-Hodgkin Lymphoma

This is a very rare condition which accounts for 4% of all cases of female cancers. On average, Non-Hodgkin Lymphoma kills 3% of all those affected.

The odds of a woman suffering from this condition is 1 out of 53. This condition occurs on your lymph nodes, bone marrow, spleen, tonsils and adenoids.

Risk factors are weakened immune system, age (60 years and above), obesity, exposure to chemicals (insecticides and herbicides), and autoimmune diseases.

This condition has no known prevention mechanism other than avoiding illnesses that weaken your immune system like HIV.


These are common types of cancer which mostly affect women. It seems that most occur with age although other factors like genes, environment and lifestyle choices can contribute.

Since prevention is better than cure, lifestyle changes, exercising regularly and healthy eating habits can keep away these top cancers affecting women.

Cancer is best treated when detected at an early stage. It is thus recommendable if you are a woman to attend regular cancer screening if you are exposed to any risk factors.

If you don’t have a family history of any of these types of cancer, it is good to find out what may be the cause as a preventive measure.