According to the National Cancer Institute, a risk factor is anything that raises or lowers a person's chance of developing a disease. Although doctors can seldom explain why one person develops the disease and another does not, researchers have identified specific factors that increase a person's chances of developing certain types of cancers.
Some cancer risk factors can be avoided. Others, such as inherited risk factors, are unavoidable, but it is a good idea to be aware of them.
Remember, many people who develop cancer have none of the known risk factors, and most people who do have risk factors do not get the disease. So, it is important to talk with your doctor about regular checkups and about what screening tests are right for you.
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