Giving Context to Cancer Risk

For the past several decades, the media has regularly bombarded us with news stories about cancer risk, as well as tools to help us assess the risk of developing a particular cancer. Telling us that factor x, y and z could increase our chances of getting cancer, but if we do a, b and exercise regularly our chances will decrease by fill-in-the blank percent. But are we really getting the big picture, or even an accurate picture, when it comes to cancer risk?

In an effort to give the public a more broad-based view of cancer risk, the National Cancer Institute (NCI) collaborated with Dartmouth Institute researchers and physicians Lisa Schwartz and Steven Woloshin to create the “Know Your Chances” website.

“Historically, NCI has only provided statistics about individual cancers,” Woloshin says. “The new website is organized so it is easy to compare across cancers. And it is NCI’s first major effort to provide statistics on non-cancer causes of death to help put the risk of death from various cancers in perspective.”