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16 cancers

Smoking causes 16 types of cancer

Tobacco smoke contains more than 7000 chemicals, including over 70 carcinogens or chemicals known to cause cancer. When you inhale cigarette smoke, these chemicals enter your lungs and spread through your body. Many of the chemicals in tobacco smoke are toxic and can cause damage to your cells leading to the development of diseases like cancer.

There is no safe level of smoking. Click on the highlighted areas below to learn more about the 16 cancers which can be caused by smoking.


Lung cancer is the leading cause of cancer death in Australia and one of the most common cancers in men and women. Four in five lung cancers are caused by smoking.


Cancers of the mouth include tumours of the cheek, gum, tongue, lip, and the floor and lining of the mouth.

Throat (Pharynx)

Cancers of the throat include tumours in the area behind the nose and mouth that connects to the oesophagus. Your risk of throat cancer greatly decreases over the first 10 years after stopping smoking.

Voice box (Larynx)

Around three-quarters of cancers of the larynx are due to smoking.


Smoking causes sinus cancer and cancer of the nose.

Oesophagus (Food pipe)

Around 60% of all cancers of the oesophagus are due to smoking.


Smoking causes 34% of bladder cancers in men and 26% of cancers in women.


Smoking causes 26% of cancers of the kidney in men and 11% of cancers in women.


Smoking causes 26% of cancers of the ureter in men and 11% of cancers in women.


Pancreatic cancer has very poor outcomes with only about 5% of patients surviving the first five years after diagnosis. Smoking causes 23% of cancers of the pancreas.


Smoking causes 23% of stomach cancers in men and 11% of cancers in women.


Smoking causes 24% of liver cancers in men and 11% of cancers in women.


Smoking causes 7% of cancers of the cervix. Within five years of quitting, the risk of cervical cancer is the same as someone who has never smoked.

Bowel (Colon and rectum)

Colorectal cancer includes cancers of the colon and the rectum. It is the second most common cancer to be diagnosed in both men and women. Around 6% of cases in men and 7% of cases in women are due to smoking.


Smoking causes 17% of ovarian cancers.

Bone marrow (Acute myeloid leukemia)

The risk increases with the number of cigarettes smoked and the number of years of smoking.

Human Body
  • Mouth width=100% Mouth
  • Lung width=100% Lung
  • Pharynx (throat)  width=100% Throat (Pharynx)
  • Larynx (voice box)  width=100% Voice box (larynx)
  • Nasal cavity and paranasal sinuses width=100% Nose
  • Oesophagus width=100% Oesophagus (food pipe)
  • Bladder width=100% Bladder
  • Kidney width=100% Kidney
  • Ureter width=100% Ureter
  • Pancreas  width=100% Pancreas
  • Stomach  width=100% Stomach
  • Liver width=100% Liver
  • Cervix width=100% Cervix
  • Colon and rectum  width=100% Bowel (colon and rectum)
  • Ovaries width=100% Ovaries
  • Acute myeloid leukaemia width=100% Bone marrow (acute myeloid leukemia)

To find out more about the cancers caused by smoking, read our detailed fact sheet .

The '16 cancers' campaign highlights the fact that smoking causes a range of cancers including liver, bowel, kidney, cervical and ovarian, and that you have one clear way to reduce your risk by quitting today.

You have one clear way to reduce your risk

The moment you quit smoking, your body starts to recover – from six hours after your last cigarette your risk of disease continually decreases. Quit Victoria has the tools to help you on your journey to better health and assist you to quit for good.

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Gave up after 48 years

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