What Are the Odds of Getting Cancer?

Reviewed on 4/22/2021

Odds Of Getting Cancer

The term cancer refers to uncontrolled growth of cells in the body. There are trillions of cells in our body. Under normal circumstances, the cells grow and divide according to the body's needs.
The term cancer refers to uncontrolled growth of cells in the body. There are trillions of cells in our body. Under normal circumstances, the cells grow and divide according to the body’s needs.

The term cancer refers to uncontrolled growth of cells in the body. There are trillions of cells in our body. Under normal circumstances, the cells grow and divide according to the body’s needs. When the cells become old or develop any abnormality, they die. Thus, the growth, division and death of the cells occur under regulated conditions in the body. This ensures that body functions occur optimally while maintaining the structure of various tissues and organs in the body. When this regulation on cell growth, division and death is disturbed, cancer begins. Thus, the abnormal or “cancerous” cell is no more under the control of the regulatory machinery, and it keeps dividing to produce more cells of its type. This leads to the crowding of cells at the affected site. The abnormal cells devour the nutrients and oxygen while depriving the normal cells of nutrients, oxygen, and even space. The abnormal cells invade nearby and distant sites (metastasis) hampering normal functioning wherever they go.

Cancer can affect almost any part of the body from the head to the toes and is named according to the site of origin. Cancer can be divided into two broad categories.

Hematologic or blood cancer: It arises from any of the blood cells. Examples include lymphoma, leukemia and multiple myeloma.

Solid tumor cancer: It arises from the tissues and organs other than the blood cells. Examples include breast, prostate, lung, colorectal and ovarian cancer.

One in three people in the United States suffers from cancer. Cancer is the second leading cause of death worldwide. It affects around 1.8 million people each year in the United States. Moreover, it causes the second-highest number of deaths (after ischemic heart disease) in the United States. It was responsible for around 606,520 deaths in 2020.

The odds of having any type of cancer depend on the presence of several risk factors that make you more likely to have that cancer. These include factors such as

Age

Gender

Personal or family history of cancer

Exposure to any cancer-causing chemicals or ultraviolet (UV) rays

Lifestyle that includes addictions (smoking and alcohol consumption)

Thus, the lifetime risk or odds of developing or dying from any type of cancer differ from person to person.

The risk of cancer or dying from it can be expressed in two ways: percentage and odds. Thus, if a man’s risk of dying from breast cancer in the United States is 0.03 percent, it means he has around 1 in 3,333 (100/0.03) chance of dying from breast cancer. In terms of odds, it means around 1 in 3,333 men in the United States will die from breast cancer.

The lifetime risks of developing and dying from certain cancers for men and women in the United States are given in the tables below. Data are taken from the National Cancer Institute’s Surveillance Epidemiology and End Results (SEER) database. Risks are expressed as an average for the entire US population. Thus, your individual risk may vary depending upon the presence or absence of any risk factors.

Table 1. Risk of developing or dying from cancer for men in the United States

Risk of developing

Risk of dying from

%

1 in

%

1 in

All invasive sites

40.14

2

21.34

5

Bladder (includes in situ)

3.86

26

0.93

108

Brain and nervous system

0.69

145

0.53

189

Breast

0.13

769

0.03

3,333

Colon and rectum

4.41

23

1.83

55

Esophagus

0.80

125

0.76

132

Hodgkin lymphoma

0.24

417

0.04

2,500

Kidney and renal pelvis

2.16

46

0.60

167

Larynx (voice box)

0.53

189

0.19

526

Leukemia

1.86

54

0.96

104

Liver and bile duct

1.44

69

1.02

98

Lung and bronchus

6.70

15

5.49

18

Melanoma of the skin

2.77

36

0.39

256

Multiple myeloma

0.93

108

0.47

213

Non-Hodgkin lymphoma

2.43

41

0.81

123

Oral cavity and pharynx

1.66

60

0.42

238

Pancreas

1.66

60

1.39

72

Prostate

11.60

9

2.44

41

Stomach

1.07

93

0.45

222

Testicles

0.40

250

0.02

5,000

Thyroid

0.70

143

0.06

1,667

Table 2. Risk of developing or dying from cancer for women in the United States

Risk of developing

Risk of dying from

%

1 in

%

1 in

All invasive sites

38.70

3

18.33

5

Bladder (includes in situ)

1.18

85

0.35

286

Brain and nervous system

0.55

182

0.42

238

Breast

12.83

8

2.57

39

Cervix

0.63

159

0.22

455

Colon and rectum

4.08

25

1.68

60

Esophagus

0.24

417

0.20

500

Hodgkin lymphoma

0.20

500

0.03

3,333

Kidney and renal pelvis

1.23

81

0.33

303

Larynx (voice box)

0.13

769

0.05

2,000

Leukemia

1.29

78

0.68

147

Liver and bile duct

0.62

161

0.54

185

Lung and bronchus

6.05

17

4.50

22

Melanoma of the skin

1.79

56

0.19

526

Multiple myeloma

0.71

141

0.38

263

Non-Hodgkin lymphoma

1.93

52

0.64

156

Oral cavity and pharynx

0.71

141

0.19

526

Ovary

1.25

80

0.88

114

Pancreas

1.60

63

1.35

74

Stomach

0.66

152

0.30

333

Thyroid

1.93

52

0.07

1,429

Uterus

3.07

33

0.63

159

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References
https://www.cancer.org/cancer/cancer-basics/lifetime-probability-of-developing-or-dying-from-cancer.html

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