Information

Information

Cancer is a group of diseases and not just one disease but many different diseases, with more than 100 different types. There are many risk factors that can affect the cancer in ways that are not fully understood. Cancer is one of the most common chronic diseases in United States, second only to heart disease as the leading cause of death.

The following pages have information about specific cancers.  The cancers with the New Item image were recently added in March 2012.

Bladder
Brain and Central Nervous System
Breast
Esophageal New Item
Kidney and Renal New Item
Laryngeal New Item
Liver
LeukemiaNew Item
Lung
Melanoma New Item
Mesothelioma New Item
Non-Hodgkin Lymphoma
Oral Cavity and Pharyngeal New Item
Pancreatic New Item
Thyroid

Information and Resources
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  • What is cancer?
    • Cancer begins in cells, the building blocks that make up tissues. Tissues make up many parts of the body. When new cells form, but the body doesn't need them, and old or damaged cells don't die as they should, the buildup of these cells often forms a mass of tissue called a lump, growth, or tumor.

      Tumors in the body can be benign (not cancer) or malignant (cancer). Benign tumors are not as harmful as malignant tumors. The benign tumors often can be removed and usually don't grow back and don't spread to other parts of the body. The malignant tumors may be a threat to life and often can be removed but sometimes grow back. These tumors can invade and damage nearby tissues and can spread to other parts of the body, called a metastasis.

  • How is cancer related to the environment?
    • The evidence is building to support a link between cancer and exposures to environmental pollutants. Some environmental exposure is potentially avoidable. For example, exposures related to tobacco smoking, can be avoided with behavioral changes. Other environmental factors are less controllable such as carcinogenic compounds released into the ambient air. Furthermore, some risk factors are unavoidable such as age, race or other genetic susceptibilities. It is important to remember that having a risk factor only increases the chances that a person will develop cancer, it does not mean the individual will for sure develop cancer. Also, many people who develop cancer do not have many or any of the currently known risk factors.

  • How can tracking cancer improve public health?
    • Scientists have shown trends in cancer that sometimes correlate with the presence of certain environmental pollutants. This correlation does not rule out other causes but does suggest that environmental factors may increase the risk for particular cancers.

      The study of associations between cancers and environmental pollutants is complicated. Studies have documented that it may take as long as 40 years for some cancers to develop after exposure to some substances, depending on the type of cancer and exposure. WI EPHT will help identify contributing environmental risk factors through standardized surveillance methods that continue over extended periods of time that are comparable across many geographic areas.

  • What are the causes of cancer?
    • The cause of many cancer types is unknown and likely determined by the combined effects of multiple factors. However, major risk factors for cancer include tobacco use, unhealthy diet, lack of exercise and sun exposure. Genetic factors also appear to play a role in some types of cancer.

      Although environmental pollution has been a source of great public concern for decades, there have only been a few well-studied cases of environmental exposures at the community-level. The cancer risks associated with many environmental chemicals are based on studies in the workplace, where exposures are often much greater than they would be in the general public. These earlier studies provide the foundation for building evidence that supports a link between cancers and exposures to environmental pollutants.

      Some environmental exposure is potentially avoidable. For example, exposures related to tobacco smoking, can be avoided with behavioral changes. Other environmental factors are less controllable such as carcinogenic compounds released into the ambient air. Furthermore, some risk factors are unavoidable such as age, race or other genetic susceptibilities. It is important to remember that having a risk factor only increases the chances that a person will develop cancer, it does not mean the individual will for sure develop cancer. Also, many people who develop cancer do not have many or any of the currently known risk factors.

  • How can you prevent cancer?
    • Making lifestyle choices and taking precautions at home and in the workplace to reduce potentially harmful exposures can help prevent cancer. The following are general recommendations for reducing your risk for cancer:

      * Do not smoke, dip, or chew tobacco, and avoid secondhand smoke
      * Eat a diet rich in fruits or vegetables
      * Maintain a healthy weight
      * Limit alcohol consumption
      * Be physically active
      * Discuss with your doctor other specific recommendations, particularly if you have a family history of cancer.

All external hyperlinks are provided for your information and for the benefit of the general public. The Department of Health Services does not testify to, sponsor, or endorse the accuracy of the information provided on externally linked pages.

Last Revised: January 28, 2014

Data

Data Query

Access the data about specific cancers in the WI EPHT online database. For more information about the cancer data, go to the Data Details below to learn about interpreting the data.

The WI EPHT online database has data about specific cancers:

Data Details

What is the data source?

The website provides data from the Wisconsin Cancer Reporting System, which is maintained by the Office of Health Informatics, Wisconsin Department of Health Services.

How does WI EPHT measure cancer?

The WI EPHT website includes the following measures:

  • counts for each cancer type
  • age adjusted rate for each cancer type

What are some considerations for interpreting the data?

While significant effort is made to ensure the accuracy and completeness of the data, there are limitations that are listed below:

  • Reporting may be less complete from rural versus urban areas of the state.
  • Reporting may be less complete for cases where diagnosis and/or treatment occurs in a different state.
  • Reporting completeness is different depending on the type of cancer.

There are many factors that can contribute to a disease and should be considered when interpreting the data. Some of these include:

  • Demographics, e.g., race, gender, age
  • Socioeconomic Status, e.g., income level, education
  • Geographic, e.g., urban vs. rural
  • Changes in the medical field, e.g., diagnosis patterns, reporting requirements
  • Individual behavior, e.g., diet, smoking