Basic principles regarding population studies of cancer include the incidence of a cancer and its prevalence. The incidence is the number of new cases reported in a population in a given year while the prevalence relates to the total number of diagnosed cases each year. Cancer is multifactoral in most instances and includes the interaction of genetic and environmental influences. Carcinogens may be in the form of physical agents (radiation), chemical agents (tobacco), and viral agents (hepatitis B virus). Ultimately, alterations in gene expression are the basis for all cancer.
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