It is estimated that 692,000 new cancer cases will be diagnosed among females, and more than 271,000 females will die of cancer in 2008. Lung and bronchus cancer is expected to be the leading cause of cancer death among females with 71,030 deaths, accounting for 26 percent of all cancer deaths, followed by breast cancer, which will be responsible for 40,480, or 15 percent of deaths. Colon and rectal cancer, pancreatic cancer, and ovarian cancer will also be significant causes of cancer deaths among females.

Due to the varying survival rates for different types of cancer, the most common causes of cancer death are not always the most common types of cancer. For instance, although lung and bronchus cancers cause the greatest number of deaths, breast cancer is more commonly diagnosed among women; there will be an estimated 182,460 new breast cancer cases in 2008 versus 100,330 lung and bronchus cancer cases. Other types of cancer that are commonly diagnosed among females but are not among the top 10 causes of cancer deaths include melanoma, thyroid cancer, cancer of the kidney and renal pelvis, and basal and sqamous cell skin cancer.

Cervical cancer screenings are recommended at least every 3 years beginning within 3 years of sexual activity or by age 21. In addition, a vaccination for genital human papillomavirus (the leading cause of cervical cancer) was approved for use by the FDA in 2006 and is recommended for adolescents and young women aged 9–26 years.1 Cervical cancer rates increase with age and vary by race and ethnicity. In 2000–2004, Hispanic women aged 20–44 and 45–64 years were more likely than women of other races and ethnicities of the same age groups to be diagnosed with cervical cancer (13.6 and 25.5 per 100,000 women, respectively). Black and Hispanic women aged 65 years and older were also more likely to be diagnosed with this type of cancer (25.8 and 24.9 per 100,000, respectively). Asian/Pacific Islander women aged 20–44 years were least likely to be diagnosed with cervical cancer (5.9 per 100,000).

Survival rates for ovarian cancer vary depending on how early it is discovered. For women diagnosed with ovarian cancer in 1996–2003, 45.0 percent could expect to live 5 years or more; however, this varied by race and the stage of the cancer. More than 92 percent of women of all races with cancer localized in the ovaries could expect to live at least 5 years. Comparatively, 71.1 percent of White women and 49.8 percent of Black women could expect the same when cancer is in the regional stage (spread beyond the primary site). Among women at the distant stage (spread to distant organs or lymph nodes), only 30.0 percent of White women and 22.5 percent of Black women could expect to live 5 more years.

1 Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Sexually Transmitted Diseases: HPV and HPV Vaccine - Information for Healthcare Providers. Aug 2006., accessed 01/16/08.

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