DENVER — Today is World Cancer Day. Cancer is the second leading cause of death in the U.S., only after cardiovascular disease. Let’s test your knowledge about cancer. 

What is the most common type of cancer?

  • Skin cancer is the most common type of cancer in the U.S. About 1 in 5 people will develop some type of skin cancer throughout their life. Coloradoans are at higher risk, especially people living in higher altitude. Pitkin, Gunnison and Chaffee have some of the highest rates of melanoma in the state. Wear those long sleeves, hats and sunscreen, and limit your outdoor exposure during peak sunny times.

What common virus can cause cervical, throat and genital cancers?

  • Human Papilloma Virus (or HPV) with the high-risk strains is associated with these types of cancers. There is a vaccine available now at age 11 or 12 for youth. For those who did not receive it at that age, you can also get the HPV vaccine in women up to 26 years old and 21 years old in men.

Breast and ovarian cancer can be passed along in families. True or False?

  • True. There are genetic mutations which can be passed along in families, such as the BRCA1 and BRCA2 genes, which can be associated with both breast and ovarian cancers. Factors which may suggest you have a higher risk of a family-link to these cancers is if you have multiple people in your family who have had these cancers. Other risk factors for these cancers are the use of contraceptives and hormone replacement therapies, alcohol use, early menstruation and late menopause and physical activity.

Ten to 15 percent of lung cancers occur in people who have never smoked. What are some of the risk factors? 

  • Radon gas in homes is the most common reason for lung cancer. This is an odorless, colorless gas which comes from uranium decay in soil and can enter homes through foundation cracks, around pipes or even in the water supply if you have well water. Get the home-kit to test for this.
  • Secondhand smoke
  • Asbestos
  • Air pollution
  • Wood smoke

Colorectal cancers are increasing in younger and middle-aged people.  

  • True. People born in 1990 have twice the risk of colon cancer and four times the risk of rectal cancer as compared to people born in 1950. This has led to the American Cancer Society (ACS) changing their recommendations to lower the screening age from 50 to 45 years old. They recommend people with average risk for colorectal cancer can use a stool test which looks for blood or get a screening colonoscopy. If you have a strong family history of colorectal cancer, the ACS recommends screening may need to start sooner than 45 years old.

Follow 9NEWS Medical Expert Dr. Comilla Sasson on Facebook and Twitter. Have a medical question or health topic idea? Email Dr. Comilla at comilla.sasson@9news.com

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