Cancer is a common disease, sometimes more common than many people believe. The National Cancer Institute estimates that one in two men in the United States has a lifetime risk of developing cancer; for women, the lifetime risk is one in three. The number of people with cancer is increasing in most communities, because more people are living to the ages of greatest cancer occurrence.

Cancer is the second most common cause of death in Illinois and the United States, and the leading cause of death for Illinois citizens aged 45-64. During 2009, the underlying cause of death for 24,182 Illinoisans was cancer. In the same year, new invasive cancer cases totaling 64,135 were diagnosed among Illinois residents. Cancer affects all racial and ethnic groups and kills more Illinoisans annually then AIDS, injuries and homicides combined.

Many types of cancer can be prevented, and the prospects for surviving cancer are better than ever before and continue to improve. Early detection and improved treatments are allowing more people who have been diagnosed with cancer to live longer and better. By adopting a healthier lifestyle and by visiting a physician regularly for a cancer-related checkup, many people could reduce their chances of developing or dying from cancer. Screening examinations, conducted regularly by a health care professional, can result in the detection of cancers of the breast, tongue, mouth, colon, rectum, cervix, prostate, testis and melanomas at earlier stages, when treatment is more likely to be successful. More than half of all new cancer cases occur in the nine screening-accessible cancer sites listed above. 

Types of Cancer and Cancer-Related Factsheets