Pediatric Cancer Risk Factors

The cause of most childhood cancers is largely unknown. Unlike adult cancers, no lifestyle factors (like smoking) are known to cause cancer. If your child develops cancer, it’s important that you know you could not have prevented it. A small percentage of cases are attributed to:

  • Genetic Syndromes: Conditions such as Li-Fraumeni syndrome, neurofibromatosis, and Gorlin’s syndrome increase risk for some pediatric cancers. RPCI’s Clinical Genetics Service can help identify patients and families at risk.
  • Down Syndrome: Down syndrome increases risk for leukemia.
  • Exposure to High Levels of Ionizing Radiation: Exposure such as radiation from an industrial accident or radiotherapy increases risk for cancer.
  • Prior Cancer: Cancer treated with chemotherapy or radiotherapy increases risk for cancer.
  • AIDS: Children with AIDS have an increased risk for Hodgkin lymphoma, Kaposi sarcoma and leiomyosarcoma.

What Does NOT Appear to Cause Pediatric Cancer?

  • Ultrasound use during pregnancy
  • Residential magnetic field from power lines
  • Low levels of indoor radon exposure
  • Maternal cigarette smoking