Harold C. Simmons Comprehensive Cancer Center

The 5 Most Common Cancers in Texas

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Here are the cancers that occur most frequently. Take these steps to reduce your risk. 

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Exercise is a key component to preventing common cancers.

Nearly 120,000 new cancer cases were diagnosed in Texas in 2018.* Nearly half of those were attributed to just five types of cancer, making them the most common cancers affecting Texans today.

While there is no foolproof way to prevent any type of cancer, there are several things you can do to reduce your overall risk. 

Eat a healthy diet.“The diet that has been proven to be beneficial for the cardiovascular system also appears to reduce the risk of cancer,” says Thomas Froehlich, M.D., Medical Director of the Hematology-Oncology Clinics at Harold C. Simmons Comprehensive Cancer Center. That’s a Mediterranean-style diet heavy on fruit, vegetables, olive oil, whole grains, legumes, nuts, and fish.

Exercise.“We should exercise more days than we don’t,” Dr. Froelich says. Aim for at least 150 minutes a week, ideally divided into 30-minute sessions over five days.

A healthy diet and exercise both feed into the third preventive measure: maintaining a healthy weight. In terms of cancer risk, “the optimal body mass index is 22 to 25,” Dr. Froehlich says. As your body mass index climbs, your risk of cancer – especially breast, colon, and prostate cancer – increases.

Read on to learn what else you can do to help prevent these commonly diagnosed cancers. 

1. Breast Cancer

Breast cancer is the most commonly diagnosed cancer in American women, and Texas had over 17,000 new cases in 2018. 

  • “Drink less alcohol,” Dr. Froehlich says. Research points to a connection between alcohol consumption and the development of breast cancer. The American Cancer Society (ACS) recommends no more than one alcoholic drink per day. (A drink is defined as 12 ounces of beer, 5 ounces of wine, or 1.5 ounces of 80-proof spirits.)
  • Breastfeed, if possible. Women who breastfed for a combined one year or more lowered their risk of breast cancer.

2. Lung Cancer

Lung cancer remains the deadliest cancer for both Texas men and women, with more than 11,000 deaths in 2018. 

3. Prostate Cancer

Prostate cancer is the most commonly diagnosed cancer in American men. Texas had more than 13,000 new cases in 2018. 

  • Eat more fish. Omega-3 fatty acids, or good fats, in some fish can help protect against prostate cancer.
  • Avoid smoking and consume alcohol in moderation, if at all.

4. Colon Cancer

Colon cancer was the second deadliest cancer for both Texas men and women in 2018, accounting for more than 3,000 deaths.

“Get screened before symptoms develop,” Dr. Froehlich says. “That’s really critical for higher-risk individuals, including people who are overweight or obese and people who have a family history of colon, uterine, or breast cancer.” Colorectal screenings can detect colon cancer early. A colonoscopy screening has the advantage of allowing the physician to both find and remove any polyps, or growths, before they turn cancerous. The ACS recommends starting testing at age 45 for those at average risk; individuals with a family history should start earlier. Talk to your doctor about when to begin screenings.

The links between diet, weight, and exercise and colorectal-cancer risk are some of the strongest for any type of cancer. Eat healthy foods, limit alcohol, watch your weight, and exercise regularly.

5. Kidney Cancer

The most common form of kidney cancer is renal cell carcinoma, accounting for about 90% of cancerous kidney tumors. 

  • Quit smoking. A large percentage of cases can be attributed to cigarette smoking. “Everybody thinks of lung cancer, but almost every cancer in the body is more common in smokers than nonsmokers,” Dr. Froehlich says. 
  • Having a family history of kidney cancer or being born with certain diseases, such as von Hippel-Lindau disease, are both risk factors for kidney cancer that should be followed up on.

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*All statistics regarding the number of new cancer cases and deaths are sourced from the 2018 Texas Cancer Registry, Cancer Epidemiology and Surveillance Branch, Texas Department of State Health Services. By analyzing age-, race-, and gender-specific cancer incidence and mortality data for Texans between 2011 and 2015, the Texas Department of State Health Services projected the number of expected new cancer cases, as well as the expected number of deaths, in Texas in 2018.