Skip to main content

ACS & ASCO are Stronger Together: Cancer.Net content is now available on cancer.org.

 

Can Childhood Cancers Be Prevented?

On this page

Unlike many cancers in adults, lifestyle-related risk factors (such as physical activity levels or smoking) don't play much of a role in a child’s risk of getting cancer.

A few environmental factors, such as radiation exposure, have been linked with an increased risk of some childhood cancers. But in some 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's important to know that it's extremely unlikely there is anything you or your child could have done to prevent it.

Rarely, a child might inherit a gene change from a parent that makes 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. But 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 editors and translators with extensive experience in medical writing.

 

Aplan PD, Shern JF, Khan J. Chapter 3: Molecular and Genetic Basis of Childhood Cancer. In: Pizzo PA, Poplack DG, eds. Principles and Practice of Pediatric Oncology. 7th ed. Philadelphia, Pa: Lippincott Williams & Wilkins; 2016.

Dome JS, Rodriguez-Galindo C, Spunt SL, Santana, VM. Chapter 92: Pediatric Solid Tumors. In: Niederhuber JE, Armitage JO, Doroshow JH, Kastan MB, Tepper JE, eds. Abeloff’s Clinical Oncology. 6th ed. Philadelphia, Pa: Elsevier; 2020.

National Cancer Institute. Cancer in Children and Adolescents. 2023. Accessed at https://www.cancer.gov/types/childhood-cancers/child-adolescent-cancers-fact-sheet on May 23, 2024.

 

Last Revised: May 28, 2024

American Cancer Society Emails

Sign up to stay up-to-date with news, valuable information, and ways to get involved with the American Cancer Society.