Cancer starts from the uncontrolled division of cells in the body. As the abnormal cells continue to grow, they form a tumor. As a tumor grows it can metastasize, or spread, and begin forming new tumors in different parts of the body. Not all cancers behave the same way; different types of cancer have different growth rates and respond differently to anti-cancer treatments. In medical terms, cancer is referred to as malignant neoplasms.
Cancer is the second leading cause of death in the United States. One in three women and one in two men will be diagnosed with cancer at some point during their life. In 2012, over 49,000 New Jersey residents were diagnosed with invasive cancer.
Multiple factors both inside and outside the body, can contribute to the development of cancer. Some risk factors for cancer can be avoided or controlled. For example, people can choose to avoid exposure to tobacco, modify their diet, and increase their exercise. Other risk factors, such as a person's age, race, family history of cancer, and genetics are not possible to modify.
Nobody is immune from getting cancer. Although scientific studies have identified specific factors which increase the risk for cancer, sometimes people without any risk factors still develop cancer and people with many risk factors do not develop cancer. The following list contains common cancer risk factors.
- Older age; the risk of developing cancer increases with age
- Race and ethnicity; people of certain races and ethnic background are at higher risk for certain types of cancer
- Lifestyle factors; tobacco use, secondhand smoke, poor diet, physical inactivity, obesity, alcohol consumption, sun exposure
- Reproductive factors/hormones
- Genetics and family history
- Certain environmental/occupational exposures
- Certain medical conditions/infections/immunosuppression
There are many ways to reduce your risk for cancer. Following these guidelines will not only reduce your risk for cancer, but improve your general health as well:
- Stop smoking. If you smoke, quit. If you don't smoke, don't start. Smoking is linked to several types of cancer -- not just lung cancer. Quitting now will reduce your risk of cancer in the future.
- Avoid excessive sun exposure. Harmful ultraviolet (UV) rays from the sun can increase your risk of skin cancer. Limit your sun exposure by staying in the shade, wearing protective clothing, or applying sunscreen.
- Eat a healthy diet. Choose a diet rich in fruits and vegetables. Select whole grains and lean proteins.
- Exercise most days of the week. Regular exercise is linked to a lower risk of cancer. Aim for at least 30 minutes of exercise most days of the week. If you haven't been exercising regularly, start out slowly and work your way up to 30 minutes or longer.
- Maintain a healthy weight. Being overweight or obese may increase your risk of cancer. Work to achieve and maintain a healthy weight through a combination of a healthy diet and regular exercise.
- Schedule cancer screening exams. Talk to your doctor about what types of cancer screening exams are best for you based on your risk factors.
- Ask your doctor about immunizations against diseases which increase your risk of cancer. Immunizations can help prevent hepatitis B, which increases the risk of liver cancer, and human papillomavirus (HPV), which increases the risk of cervical and other cancers.
Cancer data come from multiple sources:
- Incidence, stage at diagnosis, and survivorship: The NJ State Cancer Registry collects detailed information about cancer patients and the treatments they receive, which is used to track trends in incidence, survival, and mortality.
- Screening: The New Jersey Behavioral Risk Factor Survey (NJBRFS) tracks the use of preventive screening for a variety of cancer types such as mammography to detect breast cancer, Pap tests for cervical cancer, colonoscopy for colorectal cancer, and PSA tests for prostate cancer.
- Inpatient Hospitalization and Emergency Department Visits: The NJ Hospital Discharge Data Collection System receives detailed information about all inpatient hospitalization and emergency department visits from NJ hospitals.
- Mortality: Death certificates are a fundamental source of demographic, geographic, and cause-of-death information. Deaths are reported as being due to cancer when the cancer was the underlying cause of death.
Cancer IncidenceThis link will take you outside the NJSHAD system.
Cancer Prevalence (NJBRFS)
- Diagnosed With Skin Cancer - Crude Rates
- Diagnosed With Skin Cancer - Age-adjusted Rates
- Diagnosed With Other Cancer Besides Skin - Crude Rates
- Diagnosed With Other Cancer Besides Skin - Age-adjusted Rates
Hospitalizations: Emergency Department and InpatientSelect cancer types of interest in the Diagnosis step of the query builder screen. For all cancers combined use "Neoplasms" under "Primary Diagnosis Category". For a specific cancer, use "User-defined ICD-9 diagnosis codes".
MortalitySelect cancer types of interest in the "Cause of death" step of the query builder screen. For all cancers combined use "Malignant Neoplasms (cancer)" under "NJDOH 24 major causes of death". Many common cancer types can be selected under "NCHS 113 selected causes of death". To select a specific cancer grouping, use "User defined causes".
Screening and Preventive Services (NJBRFS)
- Breast Cancer - Crude Rates (Women age 18+)
- Breast Cancer - Age-adjusted Rates (Women age 50-74)
- Cervical Cancer - Crude Rates (Women age 18+)
- Cervical Cancer - Age-adjusted Rates (Women age 21-65)
- Colorectal Cancer - Crude Rates (Age 50+)
- Colorectal Cancer - Age-adjusted Rates (Ages 50-75)
- Current Cigarette Smoking - Crude Rates
- Current Cigarette Smoking - Age-adjusted Rates
- Current and Former Smoking Status - Crude Rates
- Current and Former Smoking Status - Age-adjusted Rates