Being at risk for cancer means simply that you are more likely to develop certain types of cancer than others. Risk does NOT equal guaranteed diagnosis. There are four types of cancer risk factors, but please note that different types of cancer risk factors tend to interact with each other in determining whether or not a particular person is at risk for getting cancer. And, notice also that one risk factor may make you susceptible to one or more types of cancer – not all cancers share the same set of risk factors. For example, large amounts of sun exposure will place you at risk for skin cancer, but not long cancer. While smoking places you at risk for mouth or lung cancer. Every cancer is different, as are the associated risk factors.
Most of the common cancer risk factors are lifestyle choices made by people like you every single day. As mentioned above, sun exposure without proper protection is a choice. Smoking is a choice, and using alcohol is a choice. Prevention is also a choice. Eating a healthy diet of whole foods, while avoiding things like smoking and excessive alcohol use, can actually prevent cancer. even when the risk factors are adding up from other things.
Some of the cancer risk factors depend solely on one’s genetics. There are hereditary cancer risk factors, and predisposal to certain types of cancer. Parents do pass on the risk for some cancers to their children. A parent who knows that they are going to possible spread the risk of cancer to their children might want to seek the help of a genetic counselor before becoming pregnant.
Also on the list of potential cancer risk factors are environmental factors. This has to do with where you live and where your work. A few items that may be considered cancer risk factors are chemicals known to cause cancer, and even high power lines have been classified as cancer risks.
Medical illnesses and even some medical procedures are considered risk factors associated with cancer. Prior exposure to chemotherapy or radiation therapy may lead to the development in some patients.
There are many risk factors for cancer, this is just an overview of the four most common types.