Prevention and primary care

There is a link between modifiable lifestyle behaviours and cancer risk, with one in three cancers considered preventable.1 

The primary health care sector has a significant role in the prevention of cancer. Its workforce is vital in opportunistically and proactively supporting their patients to reduce their risk of cancer.

There is clear evidence of the effectiveness of brief interventions to promote healthy living choices such as limiting alcohol consumption, quitting smokingeating a healthy diet, increasing physical activity and reducing exposure to ultraviolet radiation.2,3,4

Primary health care providers play an important role in providing advice on the benefits of healthy living to reduce cancer risk and referring people to appropriate services and interventions when required.



Helpful resources

Explore prevention and primary care resources

Our cancer prevention web pages provide a wealth of information for the general public on preventing cancer, and how to reduce cancer risk through healthy living.


1. Nunez C, Nair-Shalliker V, Sarich P, Sitas F, Bauman A. Modifiable lifestyle factors and cancer risk: An Evidence Check rapid review brokered by the Sax Institute ( for the Cancer Institute NSW, 2018. Available at: www.cancer. modifiable-lifestyle-factors-and-cancer-risk

2. Beyer F, Lynch E, Kaner E. Brief Interventions in Primary Care: an Evidence Overview of Practitioner and Digital Intervention Programmes. Curr Addict Rep. 2018;5(2):265–273. doi:10.1007/s40429–to018–to 0198–to7

3. Lion A, Vuillemin A, Thornton JS, Theisen D, Stranges S, Ward M. Physical activity promotion in primary care: a Utopian quest?. Health Promot Int. 2019;34(4):877–886. doi:10.1093/heapro/day038

4. Van Schayck OCP, Williams S, Barchilon V, et al. Treating tobacco dependence: guidance for primary care on life-saving interventions. Position statement of the IPCRG [published correction appears in NPJ Prim Care Respir Med. 2017 Sep 5;27(1):52]. NPJ Prim Care Respir Med. 2017;27(1):38. Published 2017 Jun 9. doi:10.1038/s41533–017–0039–5