Cancer is caused by changes in genes that normally control the growth and death of cells. Certain lifestyle and environmental factors can change some normal genes into genes that allow the growth of cancer. Many gene changes that lead to cancer are the result of:
- Tobacco use
- Exposure to ultraviolet (UV) radiation from the sun
Exposure to carcinogens (cancer-causing substances) in the workplace or in the environment
Some gene alterations are inherited (from one or both parents). However, having an inherited gene alteration does not always mean that the person will develop cancer; it only means that the chance of getting cancer is increased.
Scientists continue to examine the factors that may increase or decrease a person's chance of developing cancer.