An adolescent with leukemia asked the nurse what carcinogens are. The nurse correctly answers the patient by explaining that carcinogens are factors associated with cancer risk such as


• Radiation is a carcinogen that includes ionizing radiation from cosmic rays and radioactive minerals such as radon gas, radium, and uranium.

• Tobacco is a chemical carcinogen linked not only with lung cancer but also with oropharyngeal, bladder, pancreatic, cervical, and kidney cancers.

• Viruses are strongly associated with cancer as they infect the cell at some point, causing genetic damage to the cell's DNA and leading to the development of cancer.

• Incorrect: Cytokines are substances secreted by the immune system cells, usually to send messages to other immune cells.

• Incorrect: Tumor markers are chemicals in the blood that are produced by certain cancers.

• Incorrect: Carcinoma in situ is the earliest stage of cancer in which the tumor is still confined to a local area.

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