The role of chance in cancer causation

Marco Angelini, Giulia Collatuzzo, Federica Teglia, Michele Sassano, Andrei Cosmin Siea, Paolo Boffetta

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


In the last years, the discussion about the role of chance in the causation of cancer has generated a large scientific and public debate. The concept that chance, or “bad luck”, as responsible for a majority of the variation of cancer incidence, may be misleading, possibly causing an underestimation of the role played by known risk factors. In this commentary we discuss how host and external factors interact with chance in cancer causation in different ways, and provide examples of situations where chance appears to play only a minor role on cancer onset.

Original languageEnglish
Article numbere2022056
JournalMedicina del Lavoro
Issue number6
StatePublished - 2022
Externally publishedYes


  • Cancer causation
  • cancer prevention
  • carcinogenesis
  • susceptibility


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