According to the World Health Organization (WHO), cancer is a leading cause of death globally - with around 1 in 6 deaths occurring as a result [1] and around 17 million new cancer cases in 2020 alone.

There are over 100 types of cancer, each of which differs in a number of different ways, including how common they are.

The five most common types of cancer (in terms of new cases) globally include:

  • Breast (2.26 million)
  • Lung (2.21 million)
  • Colon and rectum (1.93 million)
  • Prostate (1.41 million)
  • Skin (non-melanoma) (1.20 million)

See also: Cancer Stages and Grades: What do They Mean?

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What are the most common kinds of cancer?

Breast cancer

Breast cancer is a form of cancer that forms in the cells of the breasts. Breast is the second most commonly diagnosed cancer in women in the United States - following skin cancer. While it can occur in both men and women, it occurs more in women.

Other risk factors for breast cancer include:

  • Older age
  • History of breast conditions
  • Family history of breast cancer
  • Radiation exposure
  • Obesity

Lung cancer

Lung cancer is a form of cancer that begins in the lungs and is the most common cancer worldwide - alongside breast cancer. Smoking is the primary cause of the majority of lung cancers but it can also occur in those who have never smoked or in those who have been exposed to secondhand smoke over a long period of time.

Other risk factors for lung cancer include:

  • Previous radiation therapy
  • Exposure to radon gas
  • Family history of lung cancer
  • Exposure to carcinogens

Colorectal cancer

Sometimes referred to as colon cancer, colorectal cancer is a term that describes both colon and rectal cancer (which begins in the rectum). According to the Mayo Clinic, African Americans have a greater risk of developing colon cancer than people of other races [2].

Other risk factors for colorectal cancer include:

  • Older age
  • Inflammatory intestinal conditions
  • Family history of colon cancer
  • Obesity
  • Diabetes

See also: Colon Cancer Treatment: Treatment for Colon Cancer by Stage

Prostate cancer

Prostate cancer is a form of cancer that occurs in the prostate in men - a small gland that sits just below the bladder, in front of the rectum. While the risk of prostate cancer tends to increase as men age, there are a number of other risk factors associated with prostate cancer.

Other risk factors for prostate cancer include:

  • Family history of prostate cancer
  • Obesity
  • Race

See also: Do Elevated PSA Levels Mean you Have Prostate Cancer?

Skin cancer

Skin cancer usually develops on parts of the skin that have been exposed to the sun. There are three forms of skin cancer, these include basal cell carcinoma, squamous cell carcinoma, and melanoma. Exposure to UV radiation from natural sunlight and tanning beds is a potential cause and risk factor associated with skin cancer.

Other risk factors for skin cancer include:

  • Fair skin
  • Excessive sun exposure
  • Precancerous skin lesions
  • Family history of skin cancer

What cancer causes the most deaths in the world?

According to cancer statistics from the World Health Organization (WHO), lung cancer is the most common cause of cancer deaths - responsible for around 1.8 million deaths in 2020 alone [3].

Other cancers that cause a large number of deaths worldwide include:

  • Colon and rectum (916,000)
  • Liver (830,000)
  • Stomach (769,000)

See also: What Happens When you Quit Smoking?

Can you reduce your risk of cancer?

It’s estimated that around 30-50% of all cancer cases are preventable [4]. With the old age saying ‘prevention is the best cure’ in mind, there are a number of steps you can take towards lessening cancer risk factors and reducing your risk of common cancers.

Avoid smoking

Quitting smoking can significantly reduce your risk of developing cancer. In fact, after just 1 year of quitting smoking, your risk of lung cancer will be half of a person who is still smoking.

Practice healthy eating and remain physically active

Maintaining a healthy balanced diet and choosing to slot some physical activity into your daily schedule will not only leave you feeling more energized, it will also help in reducing your cancer risk.

Protect yourself from the sun

One in every five Americans will develop skin cancer in their lifetime [5]. The good news is that this can be prevented by making some healthy choices when it comes to sun exposure. Avoiding midday sun, opting for the shade, and wearing the correct sunscreen factor are all great places to start!

Get vaccinated

Viral infections such as Hepatitis B and HPV can both be protected against with a simple vaccination.

See also: Why is it Important to Check for HPV?

Regularly screen your health

Checking up on your general health as well as screening for certain cancers is one of the best ways to stay in the know when it comes to cancer and your own personal risk. You can do this with your doctor or from home with at-home lab tests.

See also: HIV and Cancer: What’s the Connection?

Cancer that is diagnosed early is more likely to be successfully treated. This is why regular cancer screening and health check-ups are so important - both of which can be done with your local healthcare provider or from home with an at-home lab test.

LetsGetChecked offers over 30 at-home health tests, including a HPV Test, a Colon Cancer Screening Test, and a PSA test. Online results will be available within 5 days and our dedicated clinical team will be available for support and help along the way.

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  1. World Health Organization. Cancer Fact Sheet. Online:, 2022
  2. Mayo Clinic. Colon Cancer. Online:
  3. World Health Organization. Cancer Fact Sheet. Online:, 2022
  4. World Health Organization. Cancer Prevention. Online: