Whats My Risk - OncoLink Cancer Risk Assessment Tool

You may have come to OncoLink searching for information for your friend or family member who has a diagnosis of cancer. At the same time you may be wondering about your own risk of cancer. Why them? Could it be me? What can I do differently to lower my risk of developing cancer?

The following questionnaire is comprehensive and asks about your habits, lifestyle and health history. Please be aware that your answers will be kept private. We do not ask for your name, address or date of birth. The more accurately you answer the questions, the more complete your What's My Risk? profile will be.

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Due to the sensitive nature of the medical information provided in this tool, this program is meant for use only by persons over the age of 18.

What's My Risk? is a comprehensive program designed to help the user learn about factors that determine their personal risk of many types of cancer and what they can do to decrease that risk.

We collect the answers people provide to be used in future development of the program and research related to use of such a program. Your use of the program is completely voluntary. We will not ask you for any personally identifiable information. We collect internet protocol (IP) addresses (a numerical label assigned to each device (e.g., computer, printer) in a computer network using the Internet) in order to remove duplicate entries from our data analysis. However, the IP address is removed from the data after duplicates are removed and is not linked to the responses of a user. If you choose to email your report to yourself, be advised that we do not store your email address or use it for anything other than delivering the report. Because of this, we cannot respond to any questions submitted in the user satisfaction survey at the end of the program. If you require assistance, please:

Understanding Cancer Risk

The concept of cancer risk is a very complex one. In fact, some cancer researchers spend their entire career analyzing risk and developing ways to quantify it. While you may think about cancer risk as "what is the chance I will develop cancer?", a researcher thinks of how risk applies to entire populations and uses complex statistical calculations to determine this risk. While it is not necessary to have a thorough understanding of risk in order to reduce your own risk, an introduction to this concept will help you better interpret what this program tells you, what your doctors tell you or what you hear in the news.

Cancer risk in a nutshell is the likelihood that you will develop a cancer. Many factors play into your personal risk; do you smoke?, do you use a tanning booth?, did your mother have cancer? You can see that some factors are things you can change such as smoking, which we call modifiable risk factors. Some factors you cannot change, such as your family history; these are called unmodifiable risk factors. Some risk factors increase the likelihood of one type of cancer, while others can increase the risk of several types. This program is designed to identify your personal risk factors, both modifiable and unmodifiable, and help you focus on those you can change, providing resources and tips to make those changes.

Unfortunately, risk is not an exact science. Not every risk factor affects every individual to the same degree and different risk factors carry different weight. Your genetic makeup weighs heavily on your risk, though researchers don't yet understand this aspect well. Research that helps determine an individual's risk is based on studies of entire populations, and therefore there is no guarantee that a risk estimate is exact. For example, a study determining breast cancer risk in Asian-born women living in the US gives a risk of X%, but that does not mean that this number is true for every Asian-born woman in the U.S., given their own personal risk factors (diet, family history, etc.). For this reason, What's My Risk? will not focus on determining an exact level of risk, but will help you identify things you can do to decrease your overall cancer risk.

What's My Risk? Editorial Board

James Metz, MD

Maggie Hampshire, RN, BSN, OCN
Managing Editor

Carolyn Vachani, MSN, RN, AOCN
Project Manager

Gloria Di Lullo, MSN, CRNP
Content Specialist

Christine Hill-Kayser, MD
Associate Editor

Charles B. Simone, II, M.D.
Associate Editor


More Information

What's My Risk? Advisory Board

Kevin R. Fox, MD, Mariann T. and Robert J. MacDonald Professor of Medicine and Medical Director of the Rena Rowan Breast Center at the Abramson Cancer Center.

Timothy Rebbeck, PhD, Associate Director for Population Science and Professor of Epidemiology at the University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine. Dr. Rebbeck also holds positions as Director of the Center for Genetics and Complex Traits and Director of the Center for Population Health and Health Disparities.

Anil K. Rustgi, MD, Chief of the Division of Gastroenterology and T. Grier Miller Professor of Medicine at the University of Pennsylvania Health System

Robert Schnoll. PhD, Associate Professor at the Transdisciplinary Tobacco Use Research Center in the Department of Psychiatry at the University of Pennsylvania.

Jill Stopfer, MS, CGC
Certified Genetic Counselor
Abramson Cancer Center

Anil Vachani, MD, Assistant Professor of Medicine in the Pulmonary, Allergy, & Critical Care Division at the University of Pennsylvania Health System.

Karen Wagner, MS, RD, LDN, clinical dietitian specialist for the Abramson Cancer Center.