Cancer is a general term for disease in which abnormal cells in the body divide uncontrollably and invade other tissues. Cancer can occur in any organ and in any cell type within the body. Cancer cells spread throughout the body through the blood and lymph systems. There are over 100 different kinds of cancer, many of which form solid tumors, or masses of tissue. Cancers of the blood, such as leukemias, generally do not form solid tumors.
Although scientists are studying and learning about cancer at a rapid pace, the cause of many cancers is still poorly understood. More science is needed to understand and prevent cancer. About one in three people are diagnosed with cancer at some time in their life, and about one in five dies of cancer. Most cancers develop slowly and can appear any time spanning 5 to 40 years after exposure to a carcinogen. For example, cancer of the lung may not occur until 30 years after a person starts smoking. Although cancer can develop in people of all ages, it is most common among middle-aged and elderly persons. The number of cancer cases has risen dramatically over the past 40 years, but much of this increase is a reflection of the increase in population, especially in the older age groups. According to the American Cancer Society, cancer mortality rates from all causes have been declining since 1992, as have incidence rates, understood to be in large part due to reductions in tobacco use and advances in early detection and treatment.
Some causes of cancer have been identified. Sometimes there is a family history of cancer. Scientists agree that people can get cancer through repeated long-term contact with carcinogens in the environment. These include tobacco, sunlight, x-rays and certain chemicals that may be found in the air, water, food, drugs and workplace. Our personal habits and lifestyle may also contribute to cancer. It is believed that about 30% of cancer deaths are due to tobacco. Another 30% of cancer deaths are thought to be somehow associated with inadequate physical activity, unhealthy diet or obesity, but the relationship is not clear.
To explore cancer data, click here.
Tracking Cancer in Louisiana
The Health Data Portal contains information on the cancer including the average annual incidence rates and the annual counts of new cases for the following types of cancer for all age groups and, if noted, childhood groups:
Acute Lymphocytic Leukemia (includes childhood)
Acute Myeloid Leukemia (includes childhood)
Brain and Central Nervous System (includes childhood)
Chronic Lymphocytic Leukemia
Leukemia (includes childhood)
Liver and Intrahepatic Bile Duct
Melanoma of the Skin
Oral Cavity and Pharynx
For more information about cancer measures, please see the Glossary of Terms.