Cancer arises from the transformation of normal cells into tumour cells in a multistage process that generally progresses from a pre-cancerous lesion to a malignant tumour.
These changes are the result of the interaction between a person's genetic factors and 3 categories of external agents, including:
physical carcinogens, such as ultraviolet and ionizing radiation;
chemical carcinogens, such as asbestos, components of tobacco smoke, aflatoxin (a food contaminant), and arsenic (a drinking water contaminant);
and biological carcinogens, such as infections from certain viruses, bacteria, or parasites.
Ageing is another fundamental factor for the development of cancer. The incidence of cancer rises dramatically with age, most likely due to a build-up of risks for specific cancers that increase with age. The overall risk accumulation is combined with the tendency for cellular repair mechanisms to be less effective as a person grows older.
Tobacco use, alcohol use, unhealthy diet, and physical inactivity are major cancer risk factors worldwide and are also the 4 shared risk factors for other noncommunicable diseases.
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