Describe cancer as a cause of death and discuss its significance for the United States.

Expert Answers

An illustration of the letter 'A' in a speech bubbles

Cancer occurs when cells in a part of a person's body begin to grow out of control. They multiply rapidly, not following the usual controlled process of cell growth, and then they spread to other parts of the body. Cancer can start in many places and spread widely over time. These cells ignore the body's normal process of cell death but rather keep growing and draw in help from the body to keep them alive, taking oxygen from blood vessels and tricking the immune system into protecting them. Cancer kills when it invades organs, blood vessels, or nerves and prevents them from functioning properly.

According to the CDC, cancer was second only to heart disease on the list of leading causes of death in the United States in 2019, with almost 600,000 cancer deaths. Apparently, though, cancer deaths had been decreasing over the previous two decades and were down 27% from 1999 to 2019. This could be due to earlier diagnosis and treatment. Even so, lung cancer remains the most deadly form of cancer, with colorectal cancer in second place.

Cancer prevention is very important and includes recognizing preconditions (like genetic factors) early on, avoiding cancer-causing substances, and trying to live a healthy lifestyle.

Last Updated by eNotes Editorial on