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Prevention policy

Reducing your cancer risk

Prevention policy

Around one-third of all cancer deaths in Australia are caused by modifiable risk factors.

The highest risk factor is tobacco smoking, which causes around 20% of Australian cancer deaths.

Exposure to ultraviolet radiation, obesity/overweight, poor nutrition and physical activity, alcohol use and workplace carcinogens are also important preventable risk factors.

Prevention encompasses early detection; cancer screening in some cases aims to detect precancerous conditions, such as bowel polyps or cervical lesions, so they can be treated before they develop into cancer. However, for the purposes of organising Cancer Council Australia's policy resources, this section of the website focuses on primary prevention, reducing behavioural or lifestyle risk factors. There is a separate subsection on early detection.

Policy resources here are sorted by main cancer type and risk factor, with a number of overlaps, as most risk factors can impact on several cancer types.


The Burden of Disease and Injury in Australia, Australian Institute of Health and Welfare

National Cancer Prevention Policy, Cancer Council Australia

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