- Cancer isn’t 100% preventable or predictable, but risk estimates through cancer risk calculators help determine whether you’re at risk for certain types of cancer.
- Cancer risk assessment tools consider lifestyle, ethnicity, race, and family history to calculate your lifetime cancer risk estimate.
- A genetic mutation only shows a predisposition to hereditary types of cancer—it’s not a precursor to cancer.
The chances of developing cancer are overwhelming to contemplate as you consider the possibility you or a loved one may develop cancer.
The countless articles about cancer risk factors can also be difficult to navigate. If one types “cancer risk factors” into a search engine, nearly 700,000,000 results come up. Wading through all that information can feel daunting.
Instead, you can use risk estimate tools like the Ezra cancer risk calculator to assess your risk for many types of cancer. While this won’t give you a 100% guaranteed health prediction, it can indicate where you can make lifestyle changes and which cancers you may want to screen for.
Cancer risk calculator: A starting point for risk assessment and reduction
Detecting cancer early starts with understanding your cancer risk. With the cancer risk calculator, you will answer a series of questions about your lifestyle and family medical history to help determine your risk for certain cancers.
There are several ways to reduce your risk of cancer. Cancer prevention is sometimes possible with lifestyle changes or preventative measures such as surgery. Diet, environment, and lifestyle are also essential factors in determining your cancer risk.
Early detection and early treatment increase your chances of a positive outcome if you do get cancer.
Assessing your risk for various types of cancers.
There are over 100 types of cancer that can affect your body, some more common than others. The five most common cancers are:
- Breast: the most common type of cancer for women
- Prostate: the most common type of cancer for men
Some types of cancer, such as breast, ovarian, lung, prostate, and pancreatic cancer, have risk factors that can be assessed using a cancer risk calculator.
Some factors are genetic—the National Cancer Institute estimates that 5%-10% of all cancers are hereditary. While a genetic mutation indicates a predisposition to cancer, it doesn’t mean you will definitely contract cancer.
Even when particular cancer—lung cancer, for example—appears to run in the family, it may instead be linked to environmental causes or a lifestyle choice, such as smoking, that family members share. Not only does a smoker have a higher risk of lung cancer, but those around them who inhale second-hand smoke also have an increased risk.
The good news is environmental and lifestyle factors are within your control.
- Environmental factors, such as exposure to known carcinogens—asbestos and tobacco, for instance—are easily identifiable.
- Lifestyle factors, such as excessive alcohol consumption or an unhealthy diet, can also be identified and modified.
On the other hand, some cancers, such as breast cancer, prostate cancer, or ovarian cancers, have genetic indicators that health professionals can identify.
A cancer risk calculator can help you identify and address all of the above.
Assessing the risk of breast cancer.
There are many factors to consider when assessing your lifetime risk of developing breast cancer, whether it’s in situ ductal carcinoma or invasive breast cancer.
A family history of breast cancer, especially among first-degree relatives (your mother or sisters), is one risk indicator. Usually, if you have a family history of breast cancer, it’s because of mutations in the BRCA1 and BRCA2 genes. These genes make proteins to help repair damaged DNA.
When variations called mutations occur in these genes, breast cancer is more likely to develop. If your parents have a mutation in either of these genes, you’re also more likely to develop cancer at a younger age.
Surprisingly, men can also develop breast cancer, although it is not as common as it is for women. In men, BRCA1 and two mutations are also linked to prostate cancer.
While cancer isn’t preventable, you can improve your chances for a positive outcome through early detection—an essential tool in fighting cancer.
Race, ethnicity, and your breast cancer risk.
Generally, the women most likely to get breast cancer are white. However, Black women have a higher risk of developing more aggressive forms of cancer and at a younger age. Asian/Pacific Islanders, Hispanic, and American Indian/Alaska Native women have a lower risk for cancer.
Because of healthcare disparities, people of color and lower socioeconomic populations are less likely to have access to cancer screening tools, such as regular mammograms and professional medical advice. That means your cancer is less likely to be detected at an early stage.
An annual mammographic screening helps your healthcare provider understand your breast tissue changes that occur as you age such as changes in breast density.
Lifestyle and cancer prevention.
Diet and exercise, key lifestyle indicators, also play a role in cancer risk calculations. Obesity, alcohol consumption, and inactive lifestyles are linked to a higher risk of cancer.
The more alcohol you drink, the higher your risk of developing cancer.
If you drink one alcoholic drink a day, you have a 7%-10% increase in your cancer risk. In women, drinking alcohol is linked to an increased risk of breast cancer. Two or three drinks a day increases your risk to 20% or higher.
Weight and weight gain play a big role in increased cancer risk. The American Cancer Society (ACS) recommendation is to maintain a healthy weight throughout your life.
According to the ACS, growing evidence shows exercise can reduce your risk of breast cancer—especially if you are post-menopausal. As little as a few hours a week of regular physical activity helps you control your body weight and balance your hormones and energy levels.
Defend against cancer: Risk assessment, preventative measures, and regular screenings.
While there is no surefire way to prevent cancer, you can get a good idea of your cancer risk by taking a quiz with a cancer risk assessment tool, such as the one offered by Ezra.
With Ezra’s quick assessment, you can get a good indication of where you can make lifestyle changes or environmental changes to help prevent cancer. Likewise, you can learn where genetic testing might be helpful to know more about your risk.
At Ezra, we believe that the best defense against cancer is early detection. Because of that, we’ve developed a cancer risk assessment tool–a five-minute quiz that allows you to assess your own risk for cancer.
Likewise, Ezra offers a regular Full Body MRI screening service. By signing up, you can get an edge on protecting your health.