Types of Cancer and Associated Risk Factors

Breast Cancer

  • Age – most cases occur in women age 50 or older
  • Family history of breast or ovarian cancer before menopause (mother, sister or daughter)
  • Abnormal breast biopsy results
  • Lobular or ductal carcinoma in situ or atypical hyperplasia
  • First period before age 12
  • Menopause after age 55
  • Never being pregnant or having your first child after age 30
  • Higher education and socioeconomic status
  • Women in this group tend to have fewer children
  • Obesity or weight gain after menopause
  • Hormonal therapy
  • Inherited mutations in the BRCA1 or BRCA2 genes
  • Suspected risk factors include: High-fat diet, Physical inactivity, more than one alcoholic drink per day, oral contraceptives

Cervical Cancer

  • First intercourse at an early age
  • Multiple sex partners (either of the woman or her partner)
  • Cigarette smoking
  • Race – more cases occur in African American, Hispanic and American Indian women
  • Human Papillomavirus (HPV) infection
  • Diethylstilbestrol (DES) exposure before birth
  • HIV infection
  • Weakened immune system due to organ transplant, chemotherapy or chronic steroid use

Colorectal Cancer

  • Age – most common in people over age 50
  • Personal or family history of colorectal cancer (especially a parent or sibling)
  • Personal or family history of adenomatous polyps (especially a parent or sibling)
  • Personal history of inflammatory bowel disease
  • Diet high in fat (especially in red meat)
  • Diet low in fiber, fruits and vegetables
  • Physical inactivity
  • Cigarette smoking
  • Alcohol consumption
  • Obesity

Endometrial Cancer (also called Uterine Cancer)

  • Increasing age
  • Increased estrogen exposure
  • First period before age 12
  • Menopause after age 55
  • Hormonal therapy without the use of progestin
  • Never being pregnant
  • History of infertility
  • Personal history of hereditary non-polyposis colon cancer
  • Obesity
  • Use of tamoxifen

Lung Cancer

  • Cigarette, cigar or pipe smoking
  • Personal or family history of lung cancer
  • Recurring exposure to:
    • Radon or asbestos (especially for smokers)
    • Radiation
    • Arsenic
    • Air pollution
    • Secondhand smoke
  • Lung diseases such as tuberculosis (TB)

Ovarian Cancer

  • Age – most common in people over age 50
  • Family history of ovarian (mother, daughter, sister, grandmother or aunt)
  • Inherited mutations in the BRCA1 or BRCA2 genes
  • Northern European and or Ashkenazi Jewish heritage
  • Never being pregnant
  • Suspected risk factors include:
    • Fertility drugs
    • Exposure to talcum powder
    • Hormone replacement therapy
    • Obesity

Prostate Cancer

  • Age – men 50 and older are at greater risk
  • Family history of prostate cancer (especially father, brother or son)
  • Race – African American men have nearly twice the incidence of white men
  • Diet high in saturated fat and low in fruits and vegetables

Skin Cancer

  • Exposure to ultraviolet (UV) radiation from the sun or tanning beds
  • Fair complexion 
  • Family history, especially of melanoma
  • Living in the southern states or new the “Sun Belt”
  • Living in a sunny climate
  • Occupational exposure to:
    • Coal tar
    • Pitch
    • Creosote
    • Arsenic
    • Radium
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