- After Diagnosis: A Guidefor Patients and Families
- What is cancer?
- Who gets cancer?
- Did I cause my cancer?
- Can cancer be inherited?
- Why me?
- Am I going to die?
- How do I cope?
- How do I talk to people about my diagnosis?
- Making treatment decisions
- How is treatment planned?
- What should I ask my doctor?
- Will I have pain?
- Will I be able to work during treatment?
- Will I be able to exercise during treatment?
- How will cancer affect my sex life?
- How will I pay for all this?
- What other resources do I have?
- To learn more
Did I cause my cancer?
No, you did not. We don’t yet know what causes all cancers. We do know that there are certain things we call risk factors that affect your chance of getting a disease. Some risk factors can be changed (lifestyle choices) and others cannot. Risk factors that can’t be changed include your age, sex, and family health history. Lifestyle choices include things you do, such as use tobacco and drink alcohol, what you eat, and sun exposure. Other factors are linked to cancer-causing factors in the environment.
But risk factors don’t tell us everything. Having a risk factor, or even many risk factors, does not mean that you will get the disease. And some people who get cancer may not have any known risk factors. Even if a person with cancer has a risk factor, it’s often very hard to know what part that risk factor may have contributed to the cancer.
Last Medical Review: 03/08/2012
Last Revised: 01/25/2013