Table of Contents
Definition of Cancer Risk Factor
The circumstances that may increase an individual’s chance for developing cancer. Cancer risk is a combination of hereditary, environmental, viral, bacterial, immunologic, and lifestyle factors that alter cell structure and function.
Age is the most significant single risk factor for cancer, with most cancer developing in people age 50 and older.
This reflects current thinking that most cancer results from cumulative damage to cellular DNA, which causes changes in cells as they divide.
Significant Cancer Risk Factors
The most significant mutable (changeable) risk factor for cancer is cigarette smoking, which accounts for 85 percent of lung cancer, 60 percent of bladder cancer, and about 30 percent of other cancers collectively.
Excessive alcohol consumption and exposure to environmental carcinogens (substances that cause cancer) are also preventable risks for cancer.
Infectious agents are emerging as major risk factors for certain cancers. Researchers have already linked certain cancers with specific infections. More than 90 percent of women who have cervical cancer also have human papillomavirus (HPV) infection.
About 80 percent of people who have stomach cancer test positive for the presence of helicobacter pylori, which causes a low-grade bacterial infection in the stomach.
Cancer Risk Factors in Relation to Type of Cancer
|CANCER RISK FACTORS|
|Risk Factor||Type of Cancer|
|age 50 years and older||all cancers|
|alcohol consumption||stomach cancer, liver cancer, pancreatic cancer|
|cigarette smoking||cancers of the lung, bladder, kidney, stomach, breast, prostate, colon, pancreas; acute myeloid leukemia (AML)|
|Epstein-Barr virus||Burkitt’s lymphoma|
|gender: female||breast cancer, endometrial cancer, cervical cancer|
|gender: male||bladder cancer, prostate cancer, pancreatic cancer, stomach cancer, cancer of the penis, testicular cancer, liver cancer|
|helicobacter pylori infection||stomach cancer, gastric lymphoma|
|hepatitis b virus/hepatitis c virus||liver cancer|
|HIV/AIDS||Kaposi’s sarcoma, lymphoma|
|human herpes virus-8 (HHV-8)||Kaposi’s sarcoma|
|human papillomavirus (hpv) infection||cervical cancer, cancer of the penis, vaginal cancer, anal cancer, cancer of the vulva|
|human T-lymphotropic virus-1 (HTLV-1)||adult T-cell leukemia/lymphoma (ATL)|
|inflammatory bowel disease (ibd)||colorectal cancer|
|intestinal polyp||colorectal cancer|
|personal or family history of cancer||all, though notably breast, ovarian, and colorectal cancers|
|Schistosoma haematobium parasitic infection||bladder cancer|
|sun exposure||skin cancer: basal cell carcinoma, squamous cell carcinoma, malignant melanoma|
|tobacco use other than smoking||oral cancer (lips, tongue, other structures of the mouth)|
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