The 13 Most Common Cancer Types

Of over 200 different types of cancers that have been identified, the cancer diagnosed with the greatest frequency in the United States (excluding nonmelanoma skin cancers) is breast cancer.

The next most common — ‘common’ being measured as 40,000 cases or more per year (2018) — are lung cancer and prostate cancer.

The list of the 13 most common cancers, with estimated new cases and deaths for each type, follows. They’re listed in order of highest estimated new cases to lowest.

1. Breast cancer

After skin cancer, breast cancer is the most commonly diagnosed cancer in American women.

Estimated yearly new cases:

  • Female: 268,600
  • Male: 2,670

Estimated yearly deaths:

  • Female: 41,760
  • Male: 500

5-year survival rate:

  • Female: 90 percent (2008–2014)

2. Lung cancer (including bronchus)

The second most common cancer, lung cancer, is the leading cause of cancer death.

To lower your risk of lung and bronchus cancer, it’s recommended that you stop smoking.

  • estimated yearly new cases: 228,150
  • estimated yearly deaths: 142,670
  • 5-year survival rate: 23 percent (2008–2014)

3. Prostate cancer

Typically slow growing, prostate cancer is the most common cancer and second leading cause of cancer death among American men.

  • estimated yearly new cases: 164,690
  • estimated yearly deaths: 29,430
  • 5-year survival rate: 98 percent (2008–2014)

4. Colon and rectal cancer

Colorectal cancer refers to cancers found in the colon or rectum. Together they make up the large intestine.

  • estimated yearly new cases: 145,600
  • estimated yearly deaths: 51,020
  • 5-year survival rate: 64 percent (2008–2014)

5. Melanoma (skin)

Melanoma is cancer that begins in specialized cells that make up the pigment that gives skin its color (melanin).

While more common on the skin, melanomas can also form on the eye and in other pigmented tissues.

  • estimated yearly new cases: 96,480
  • estimated yearly deaths: 7,230
  • 5-year survival rate: 92 percent (2008–2014)

6. Bladder cancer

Bladder cancer usually affects older adults and occurs more frequently in men than it does in women.

  • estimated yearly new cases: 80,470
  • estimated yearly deaths: 17,670
  • 5-year survival rate: 77 percent (2008–2014)

7. Non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma

Non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma is cancer that begins in the lymphatic system. It’s characterized by tumors developing from a type of white blood cell known as a lymphocytes.

  • estimated yearly new cases: 74,200
  • estimated yearly deaths: 19,970
  • 5-year survival rate: 71 percent (2008–2014)

8. Kidney (renal cell and renal pelvis) cancer

The most common type of kidney cancer is renal cell carcinoma which commonly develops in one kidney as a single tumor.

Renal pelvis cancer forms in the kidney’s pelvis or the ureter, the tube that carries urine to the bladder from the kidney.

  • estimated yearly new cases: 73,820
  • estimated yearly deaths: 14,770
  • 5-year survival rate: 75 percent (2008–2014)

9. Endometrial cancer

There are two types of uterine cancer. Endometrial cancer is common while uterine sarcoma is rare.

  • estimated yearly new cases: 61,880
  • estimated yearly deaths: 12,160
  • 5-year survival rate: 84 percent (2008–2014)

10. Leukemia (all types)

Leukemias are cancers that begin in the blood-forming tissue of the bone marrow.

These cancers are characterized by large numbers of abnormal white blood cells building up in the blood and bone marrow to a point where they crowd out normal blood cells. This makes it harder for the body to distribute oxygen to its tissues, fight infections, and control bleeding.

  • estimated yearly new cases: 61,780
  • estimated yearly deaths: 22,840
  • 5-year survival rate: 61.4 percent (2008–2014)

11. Pancreatic cancer

Pancreatic cancer begins in the pancreas and usually spreads rapidly to other organs nearby.

  • estimated yearly new cases: 56,770
  • estimated yearly deaths: 45,750
  • 5-year survival rate: 9 percent (2008–2014)

12. Thyroid cancer

While anaplastic thyroid cancer is difficult to cure, follicular, medullary, and the most common type of thyroid cancer, papillary, can usually be treated effectively with positive outcomes.

  • estimated yearly new cases: 52,070
  • estimated yearly deaths: 2,170
  • 5-year survival rate: near 100 percent (2008–2014)

13. Liver and intrahepatic bile duct cancer

Liver cancer includes hepatocellular carcinoma — the most common type — bile duct cancer (cholangiocarcinoma), and hepatoblastoma.

Risk factors for hepatocellular carcinoma include cirrhosis of the liver and chronic infection with hepatitis B or C.

  • estimated yearly new cases: 42,030
  • estimated yearly deaths: 31,780
  • 5-year survival rate: 18 percent (2008–2014)


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