There are certain cancers that are more prevalent in females than males. In particular, cancers of the reproductive organs, known as gynaecological cancers, are for obvious reasons not applicable to males, and breast cancers are more prevalent in women than man. There are also other cancers which are more prevalent in females than males such as malignant melanoma (skin cancer).
Breast cancer is by far the most commonly diagnosed cancer in females, accounting for almost a third (31%) of all female cases. This is followed by lung (12%) and bowel (11%) cancers after which other gynaecological cancers arise. Some more common female cancers are listed below:
Breast cancer-changes to the size or shape of your breast or nipple are common symptoms of breast cancer and you should be familiar with your normal breast, so that you’ll be aware of any changes.
Cervical Cancer– the main cause of cervical cancer is Human papilloma virus (HPV), which is a sexually transmitted infection (STI). Females between 25 and 60 are tested every 3-5 years for cervical cancer through a cervical smear test.
Ovarian Cancer– most cases occur in women over the age of 50 years, but other possible risk factors include family history and ovulation.
Uterine/endometrial cancer-most often diagnosed in women aged 60-79. It is well recognised that maintaining a healthy weight reduces your risk.
Lung cancer– is mostly diagnosed in people aged 70-74 years old and about 90% of cases are smokers, although people who have never smoked can develop lung cancer too.
Bowel cancer– over 80% of bowel cancers are diagnosed in people aged over 60. Diet has been shown to have a significant influence on bowel cancers; in particular a high fibre diet reduces the risk of developing the disease.
Malignant melanoma – particularly prevalent in women between the ages of 15-34 and the most common place that females develop melanoma is on the legs.
Although age has a significant bearing on your risk of developing cancer, there are things you can do to reduce your risk of cancers
- Be aware of the signs and symptoms of cancer; check your breasts for changes regularly and be conscious of your menstrual cycle and how you are feeling. Report any changes to your GP as soon as possible.
- Consume a low fat, high fibre diet.
- Participate in regular physical activity and maintain a healthy weight
- Limit alcohol intake to the recommended limits and avoid smoking
- Use sunscreen with sun protective factor (SPF) 15 or higher, and both UVA and UVB protection.
- If you have a strong family history of cancer or are over the age of 50, ask your GP about screening.
Further reading is available at www.cancerresearchuk.org/cancer-help/type/women/