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John R. Marsh Cancer Center

Risk Assessment I'm every patient's dream and cancer's worst nightmare.

Cancer grows when a cell’s DNA is damaged. The cause could be genetic or environmental—or a combination of the two. While scientists continue to examine the exact cause of cancer, some established risk factors are associated with the risk of cancer.

Biological Risk Factors

  • Age
  • Race
  • Gender
  • Ethnicity

Hereditary risk factors

  • Specific mutated genes
  • Personal or family history of cancer

Environmental risk factors

  • Lack of exercise
  • Exposure to large amounts of radiation at a young age
  • Alcohol use (more than one drink of alcohol per day)
  • Being overweight or obese
  • A poor diet
  • Tobacco use, second-hand smoke, toxins or pollution

Having a risk factor does not mean you will get cancer, but having little risk doesn’t mean you won’t be diagnosed with cancer. It’s important to discuss your risks with your primary care physician, participate in recommended screenings and determine whether a cancer risk assessment is right for you.

Cancer risk assessment

A cancer risk assessment estimates your risk for developing cancer within your lifetime. Understanding your risk can help you develop a personal prevention plan with the hope of detecting cancer at an early

Upon learning the results of your cancer risk assessment, you may decide to increase the frequency of cancer screenings, use more sophisticated imaging tools, pursue genetic testing, undergo a primary prevention surgery or do nothing at all.

Talk to your primary care physician about the importance of regular cancer screenings for breast, cervical, prostate, colon and skin cancer.

Free Breast Health Care

If you struggle to afford regular breast screenings, the John R. Marsh Cancer Center can help. The Make a Difference project, a program funded by a grant from Susan G. Komen Maryland for the Cure, offers breast cancer outreach, education and screening programs to uninsured and underinsured women living in Washington County.

11116 Medical Campus Road
Hagerstown, MD 21742
TDD: 1-800-735-2258
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