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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