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Discuss Risk Factors for Cancer

Worksheet Overview

QUESTION 1 of 10

Image of cell division

Did you know that our bodies are made up of more than 100 billion cells?! Changes in just one of these cells can eventually lead to something called cancer. Let's find out more below.

Image of an animal cell

Our cells have a nucleus that contains our chromosomes which are formed of our genes. These genes are really important in controlling the cell. They tell the cell what jobs to do, what type of cells to form, when to divide and when to die. Our genes are really important in controlling cell division and making sure they don't grow out of control. Sometimes our genes get corrupted, we call this a mutation. Mutations are random and might cause our cells to divide rapidly and form a tumour. Some mutations don't have any effect at all on our cells.

There are two types of tumour, benign and malignant: 

Image of tumours

Benign tumours 

Benign tumours are a group of cells that are normally contained in one area by a cell membrane. These cells grow very slowly and don't invade other body parts. Because they are contained in an area they can be easily removed. Benign tumours can be life-threatening especially if they are found in or near major organs and interrupt with normal organ functions.

Malignant tumours 

Malignant tumour cells can spread around the body, invading neighbouring healthy tissues. Cells from malignant tumours might break up and enter the blood or lymphatic system. They can then lodge into another organ and form a secondary tumour. These cells divide faster than benign tumour cells, disrupting the organs function which can lead to death.

How come some people get cancer and others don't?

The chances of getting a disease are called risk factors and it's based on different things like the genes you inherit, the lifestyle you lead and the environment

 Some of the main risk factors are:
  1. Genetic risk factors- for example mutations ​in the BRCA1 gene can lead to breast cancer, these mutations may be inherited
  2. Mutations (changes to DNA) can be caused by chemicals or carcinogens. Some examples include smoke from cigarettes that can lead to lung cancer and drinking alcohol is a risk factor leading to liver cancer. These examples are lifestyle risk factors as a person has chosen to do these.
  3. Ionising radiation (UV light or X-rays) may cause skin cancers to form. This is an environmental factor as you can't escape the sunlight when outdoors! However, sunbathing would be a lifestyle factor, as a person would choose to sunbathe. 
  4. Around 15% of cancers are caused by viral infections, for example, the human papilloma virus (HPV) can be spread through sexual intercourse. Teenagers in the UK are now vaccinated against HPV.​ ​​This would be a lifestyle risk factor as the virus has spread through sexual intercourse.

 

Image of virus attacking DNA

In the following activity, you will discuss risk factors that may lead to cancer.

What is a tumour?

 

A disease that will lead to death

A group of cells that keep replicating and growing in number

A group of cells that are poisonous

Sometimes genes get mutated. What is meant by the term mutation? Select one answer.

 

 

A random change in a gene

A random change in the cells enzymes

A change that is beneficial to the organism

Image of tumours

Describe some of the features of benign and malignant tumours. Select one answer in each row.

Malignant tumour cells can spread around the body invading neighbouring healthy tissues. How else may malignant tumours affect the body?

 

Image of tumour in lungs
The image shows a tumour in the lung of a man.
How may have this tumour formed? Select one answer below.
It could be a side effect from a type of food he ate

Chemicals in things like cigarettes may have caused the tumour

The person could have caught it from someone else

Ovarian and breast cancer are two types of cancers that affect women. Some women might inherit mutations in certain genes which makes it more likely they will develop these cancers. What kind of risk factor is this? Type one answer below. 

What is meant by the term risk factor?

Factors that make it more likely you will get a disease

Factors that make it less likely you will get a disease

Factors that have no effect on whether you get a disease

Select risk factors that might increase the chances of getting cancer.

Viruses

UV radiation

Water intake

Carcinogens

Image of cigarette smoke

How might exposure to carcinogens lead to cancer?

Viruses

UV radiation

Water intake

Carcinogens

Lifestyle and environmental factors can increase the risk of cancer.

Select the factors that are environmental and those due to lifestyle choices.

  • Question 1

What is a tumour?

 

CORRECT ANSWER
A group of cells that keep replicating and growing in number
EDDIE SAYS
Tumours can consist of millions of cells. That's often why some people will notice a lump in various places around the body, signalling that something is not quite right with them.
  • Question 2

Sometimes genes get mutated. What is meant by the term mutation? Select one answer.

 

 

CORRECT ANSWER
A random change in a gene
EDDIE SAYS
A misconception is that mutations are always harmful. Often mutations have no negative effect on the organism.
  • Question 3

Image of tumours

Describe some of the features of benign and malignant tumours. Select one answer in each row.

CORRECT ANSWER
EDDIE SAYS
Try to remember: Malignant = Moves Malignant tumours mean the cancerous cells can move and spread to other tissues. Benign = Bound Benign tumours mean the abnormal cells are kept contained (bound) by a cell membrane.
  • Question 4

Malignant tumour cells can spread around the body invading neighbouring healthy tissues. How else may malignant tumours affect the body?

 

CORRECT ANSWER
EDDIE SAYS
Often when people talk about cancer they are referring to malignant tumours. Because malignant cancers can spread they have more chance of disrupting organ functions and cause serious side effects in sufferers.
  • Question 5
Image of tumour in lungs
The image shows a tumour in the lung of a man.
How may have this tumour formed? Select one answer below.
CORRECT ANSWER
Chemicals in things like cigarettes may have caused the tumour
EDDIE SAYS
Cancer is a non-communicable disease. This means you can\'t catch it. Certain environmental factors might contribute to it like smoking cigarettes or radiation from the sun whilst sunbathing.
  • Question 6

Ovarian and breast cancer are two types of cancers that affect women. Some women might inherit mutations in certain genes which makes it more likely they will develop these cancers. What kind of risk factor is this? Type one answer below. 

CORRECT ANSWER
Genetic
EDDIE SAYS
Genetic risk factor means a person might inherit a faulty gene that makes them more likely to develop a certain type of cancer like breast cancer. It doesn\'t mean they will definitely develop that cancer though.
  • Question 7

What is meant by the term risk factor?

CORRECT ANSWER
Factors that make it more likely you will get a disease
EDDIE SAYS
Risk factors are anything that makes it more likely you will get a disease, like smoking cigarettes is a risk factor for lung cancer.
  • Question 8

Select risk factors that might increase the chances of getting cancer.

CORRECT ANSWER
Viruses
UV radiation
Carcinogens
EDDIE SAYS
There are quite a few risk factors for getting cancer, take the time to learn a few for your exams!
  • Question 9

Image of cigarette smoke

How might exposure to carcinogens lead to cancer?

CORRECT ANSWER
EDDIE SAYS
One mutation won't lead to cancer. It's the build-up of many mutations that can lead to cancer.
  • Question 10

Lifestyle and environmental factors can increase the risk of cancer.

Select the factors that are environmental and those due to lifestyle choices.

CORRECT ANSWER
EDDIE SAYS
A tip to help you decide if a factor is a lifestyle factor is whether or not someone chooses it. Sunlight contains UV radiation which is a risk factor, however we can\'t escape sunlight so it\'s classed as an environmental factor. Sunbathing is a lifestyle factor because we choose to do it.
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