A risk factor is any factor that is associated with increasing someone’s chances of developing a certain condition, such as cancer. Some risk factors are modifiable, such as lifestyle or environmental risk factors, and others cannot be modified, such as inherited factors and whether someone in the family has had cancer.
Having 1 or more risk factors does not mean that you will develop cancer. Many people have at least 1 risk factor but will never develop cancer, while others with cancer may have had no known risk factors. Even if a person with cancer has a risk factor, it is usually hard to know how much that risk factor contributed to the development of their disease.
Risk factors for oesophageal cancer include:
- a high level of alcohol consumption
- diet – a lack of fresh fruit and vegetables; and eating smoked, salted or pickled food
- exposure to certain chemical fumes
- frequent drinking of very hot liquids
- medical conditions, such as gastro-oesophageal reflux disease (GORD) and Barrett’s oesophagus
- a family history of certain gastro-oesophageal disorders.
Cancer Council Australia (2017). Oesophageal cancer.
Cancer Council Australia (2015). Understanding stomach and oesophageal cancers.