Understanding Cancer Risk Factors
Every day, we learn more about cancer. Through our research, specialists at the Georgia Cancer Center discover more about specific populations through epidemiology studies to compare why some people get this disease and others do not. A risk factor is something that makes a person more likely to get a specific disease or condition. Knowing more about our risk factors can help guide our decisions for screenings because statistics show that the earlier we find the cancer, the stronger the chances are for positive treatment outcomes and survivorship.
How Genetics Plays a Role in Cancer Risk
Some risk factors are outside of our control – like age or family history. Because all cancers are genetic, meaning cancer occurs when several genetic changes happen within our cells, family history is an important factor in your healthcare. For example, some people inherit genes that may increase their cancer risk such as BRCA1 or BRCA2 genes which increase the risk of breast or ovarian cancer. But not all cancers are hereditary – most are actually caused by other factors such as the environments in which you live.
Cancer Risk Factors within your Control
Risk factors like smoking, obesity, Human Papillomavirus (HPV) and sun exposure have been scientifically linked to cancer – and these are within our control. Being aware of your environment and making choices to eliminate or restrict some of these high risk factors can significantly impact your health. Talk with any of our cancer specialists at The Georgia Cancer Center about getting help to reduce your risk:
- Stop smoking or using any form of tobacco
- Eliminate your risk of second hand smoke exposure
- Limit exposure to chemicals or radiation
- Reduce your sun exposure and protect your skin with sunscreen
- Consider vaccinations against viruses such as HPV
- Limit alcohol consumption
- Learn healthy eating habits
- Maintain a healthy weight
- Increase physical activity and stay active
For More Information about Cancer Risk Factors
If you have questions about your cancer risk factors, contact one of our Nurse Navigators for more information.