Undiagnosed cancers can be devastating, as the likelihood that the disease reaches a late stage becomes more and more likely over time. Late-staged cancers are the most difficult to overcome, as treatments become less effective at ridding the body of the disease once it has become more entrenched and has spread to other areas of the body.

Despite the poor prognoses typically given to cancer patients diagnosed with a late stage of the disease, three major types of cancer are either experiencing a decline or have remained stable in these types of incidences.

Breast Cancer

Over 207,000 women were diagnosed with breast cancer in 2010, according to the American Cancer Society. That breaks down into a rate of nearly 122 women per 100,000 being diagnosed with breast cancer. According to the most recent statistics from the National Cancer Institute on late stage diagnoses, the rate for breast cancers diagnosed at a late stage is approximately 7.4 per 100,000.
More importantly, the rates of incidence for late-stage breast cancer are remaining stable, most likely due to increased awareness of the disease and advancements in early detection technology.

Colon Cancer

With estimates surpassing 142,000 cases, cancers of the colon and rectum ranked third in new cancer diagnoses for 2010. The current overall rate for colon and rectal cancer diagnoses is approximately 51 cases per 100,000 people.

In comparison, the most recent rates for late-staged colon cancer showed 6.8 cases per 100,000 people. Trends in rates for colon cancers diagnosed at a late stage are falling, albeit slowly. On average, the rate for this type of colon cancer diagnosis fell by approximately 0.1 percent annually between 1980 and 2005.
Prostate Cancer

Prostate cancer is currently the leader in new cancer cases per year in men. In 2010, approximately 28 percent of all male cancer diagnoses were of prostate cancer - an estimated 217,730 incidences. Rates of incidence for prostate cancer are actually the highest of any cancer at 155.5 cases per 100,000 men. Fortunately, rates of incidence for late-staged prostate cancer have fallen significantly since the statistic was first recorded, with the latest rate coming in at 7.1 cases per 100,000 men.  Between 1995 and 2005, rates fell more than 5 percent.

Certain people are at increased risk of a late-stage cancer diagnosis. Those who don't undergo regular screening tests according to the recommended guidelines may leave themselves open to the possibility of an undiagnosed cancer developing. Additionally, if diagnostic tests require follow-up screenings and none are ordered by the doctor, the risk of a late-stage cancer diagnosis goes up even more.