Cancer in Children

+ -Text Size

Causes, Risk Factors, and Prevention TOPICS

Can childhood cancers be prevented?

Unlike many cancers of adults, there are no lifestyle-related risk factors (such as smoking) that are known to influence a child’s risk of getting cancer. Very few environmental factors, such as radiation exposure, have been linked with childhood cancer risk. Even then, in many cases exposure to radiation may 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.


Last Medical Review: 09/05/2013
Last Revised: 01/31/2014