Cancer Initiatives

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Causes and Risk Factors

Cancer is a group of diseases characterized by the uncontrolled growth and spread of abnormal cells. If the spread is not controlled, it can result in death.

It is believed that cancer is caused by external factors (tobacco, chemicals, radiation or infectious organisms) and internal factors (inherited mutations, hormones, immune conditions and mutations that occur from metabolism). These causal factors may act together or in sequence to initiate or promote carcinogenesis. Ten or more years often pass between exposures or mutations and detectable cancer. Cancer is treated by surgery, radiation, chemotherapy, hormones, and immunotherapy. (text excerpted from ACS Cancer Facts and Figures 2008)

Risk factors for selected cancer types    [pdf 29k]

For more information


Cancer Cluster Information


Bladder

Brain

Breast

Cervix

Colorectal

Endometrium

Esophagus

The most important risk factors are tobacco use (cigarettes, cigars, pipes), and excessive alcohol use along with the syndrome, Barrett's esophagus. Possible risk factors are obesity, inadequate diet, poor nutrition, decreased levels of certain nutrients (carotene, ascorbic acid, riboflavin, niacin, thiamin, zinc, magnesium, and selenium), and insufficient consumption of fruits and vegetables.

Gallbladder

Kidney

Larynx

Leukemia

Liver

Lung

Lymphoma, Hodgkin's

Lymphoma, Non-Hodgkin's

Mouth

Multiple myeloma

Ovary

Pancreas

Prostate

Skin cancer, melanoma

Skin cancer, Non-melanoma

Stomach

Thyroid


References:
1 American Cancer Society. Cancer Facts & Figures, 2002.
2 Harras A, editor. Cancer Rates and Risks, USDHHS, NIH 1996.