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Researchers have discovered several risk factors that can increase your chance of developing cancer. Simple changes to your everyday lifestyle can help lower your chance of the deadly disease. Early detection is also key in cancer prevention.

Lead a Healthy Lifestyle
Obesity and inactivity are risk factors for many types of common cancers. It’s important to maintain a healthy weight throughout life by exercising regularly and eating healthy foods. See tips for healthy living.

Don't use Tobacco 
Cigarette smoking is a leading cause of lung cancer. It also increases your risk of developing other types of common cancers, such as colorectal cancer. Cigar smoking, pipe smoking and chewing tobacco also increase your risk. Exposure to secondhand smoke is also harmful. Smoking cessation programs available in many communities can help you kick the highly addictive and very dangerous habit.

Limit Sun Exposure
Skin cancer is the most common type of skin cancer, yet it is one of the most preventable. The sun produces ultraviolet (UV) radiation that can damage the skin and lead to skin cancer. Take the following precautions to reduce your risk:

  • Avoid prolonged exposure to the sun between 10 a.m. and 4 p.m. (peak UV radiation)
  • Use a sunscreen with a sun protection factor (SPF) of at least 15. Reapply frequently
  • Cover yourself with protective clothing, a hat and sunglasses
  • Don’t use tanning beds or sunlamps

Get Screened Regularly
In most cases, the earlier cancer is found and treated, the better your chances of being cured. Screenings for common types of cancer include:

  • Breast cancer: Women after the age of 40 should get a yearly mammogram, an x-ray picture of the inside of the breast. Women of all ages should perform monthly breast self-exams to check for suspicious lumps.
  • Cervical cancer: Yearly pelvic exams are recommended starting at age 21. Human Papillomavirus (HPV) and Pap tests allow your doctor to find and treat most precancerous conditions before cancer develops.
  • Colorectal cancer: Generally, men and women at age 50 and over should be screened. In a sigmoidoscopy or colonoscopy, your doctor uses a lighted tube to check the inside of your rectum and colon for polyps (growths that can lead to cancer). Other screening options include a fecal occult blood test (FOBT), x-rays of the colon and rectum, and a rectal exam by your doctor.
  • Lung cancer: Low-dose computed tomography, a type of CT scan, can be used to screen for lung cancer in smokers age 50-80.
  • Nonmelanoma skin cancer and melanoma: Check your skin regularly for any changes to your skin. If there’s a new growth, a change in a mole, a sore that doesn’t heal, or any other abnormalities, see your doctor.
  • Prostate cancer: A digital rectal exam by your doctor and a blood test for prostate specific antigen (PSA) can detect potential problems with the prostate. Although PSA can be caused by inflammation of the prostate, it can also indicate prostate cancer.

Some of the information on this page is provided by the National Cancer Institute.