What Are Some of the Most Common Risk Factors for Cancer?

Through lifestyle choices and medical management of health issues, it is possible for an individual to reduce his or her risk of developing cancer. Certain risk factors, such as tobacco use and obesity, are modifiable. Others, such as age and family history, are not. However, it’s important to keep in mind that having multiple risk factors for cancer does not automatically guarantee that a person will develop it, just as having few risk factors does not guarantee that cancer will not develop. If you or a loved one is diagnosed with cancer, the multidisciplinary cancer care team at West Hills Hospital is here to help.


According to the National Cancer Institute , 66 years is the median age for cancer diagnoses. Although cancer can develop at any age, certain types of cancer may be more likely to affect individuals of specific age groups. For example, individuals under 20 years of age are the most likely to require cancer care for bone cancer. Children and adolescents are more likely to develop neuroblastoma than adults. Conversely, more than half of all cases of prostate cancer are diagnosed among men over the age of 65. Nearly all cases of prostate cancer affect men 50 years of age and older.


Tobacco use is a major risk factor for both cancer development and cancer death. The chemicals in cigarettes, cigars, and chewing tobacco damage the DNA in a person’s cells. This leaves the individual susceptible to cancerous changes. No level of tobacco exposure is safe. This applies to secondhand smoke and thirdhand smoke, the latter of which refers to residual chemicals on surfaces.


Maintaining a healthy weight can protect individuals from a range of chronic diseases. Being obese may increase the risk of certain cancers, including breast, colorectal, endometrial, esophageal, and pancreatic cancer.

The compassionate cancer care team at West Hills Hospital utilizes state-of-the-art medical technology and an innovative approach to treatment to support our patients and their families. Our hospital is proud to offer exceptional medical services right in the West Hills community, which provides a convenient option for our neighbors who are undergoing radiation, surgical, or medical oncology. If you would like general information about our cancer care program, call our hospital at (818) 676-4321 and speak with a registered nurse.

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