Korean J Epidemiol.  2003 Jun;25(1):1-15.

Cancer Epidemiology and Prevention

  • 1Department of Preventive Medicine, Seoul National University College of Medicine. kyyoo@plaza.snu.ac.kr
  • 2Division of Cancer Control and Epidemiology, National Cancer Center Research Institute.


Cancer is one of the main cause of death worldwide. There are about 10 million new cases every year, and more than 6 million persons will die of the disease in a year. Many factors are responsible for the recent increase in cancer. Changing lifestyles, in particular as regards tobacco smoking, alcohol drinking and diet, also play a crucial part. Several different types of scientific studies contribute to identifying the causes of human cancer. IARC's prestigious series of Monographs on the Evaluation of Carcinogenic Risks to Humans publishes authoritative reports on the risks posed by potentially carcinogenic agents and exposures. Most cancers are thought to be caused by factors related to lifestyle and environment. In particular, tobacco, chronic infections and diet are involved in a substantial number of new cancers. Tobacco is responsible for about 15% of all cancers throughout the world. Chronic infections with viruses, bacteria and parasites are responsible for 16% of all cancers. It has been hypothesized that 30% of all cancers could be prevented by appropriate diet and physical activity. Other known causes of cancer, such as occupational, genetic, and reproductive factors, plays a lesser role in the global burden of cancer. Many types of cancer seem to be cluster in families, occurring more often in close relatives of affected individuals. The risks that a person inheriting a defect in a person inheriting a defect in a cancer susceptibility gene will develop a certain type of cancer must be estimated, and the role of environmental factors in modifying these risks must be ascertains. Researches into the causes of cancer has revealed how many of the most common cancers can be prevented. Detection of many forms of the disease at an early stage can greatly improve the prospects for effective treatment, reducing deaths and enhancing quality of life.


Cancer epidemiology; Genetic susceptibility; Prevention; Risk factor

MeSH Terms

Alcohol Drinking
Cause of Death
Genetic Predisposition to Disease
Life Style
Motor Activity
Quality of Life
Risk Factors
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