Can Childhood Cancers Be Prevented?

Unlike many cancers of adults, lifestyle-related risk factors (such as smoking) don't influence a child’s risk of getting cancer. A few environmental factors, such as radiation exposure, have been linked with childhood cancer risk. But, in many cases exposure to radiation might be unavoidable, such as if the child needs radiation therapy to treat another cancer. If your child does develop cancer, it is important to know that it is extremely unlikely there is anything you or your child could have done to prevent it.

Very rarely, a child might inherit gene changes that make them very likely to get a certain kind of cancer. In such cases, doctors may sometimes recommend preventive surgery to remove an organ before cancer has a chance to develop there. Again, this is very rare.

The American Cancer Society medical and editorial content team

Our team is made up of doctors and oncology certified nurses with deep knowledge of cancer care as well as journalists, editors, and translators with extensive experience in medical writing.

Last Medical Review: August 22, 2016 Last Revised: August 22, 2016

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