What are the risk factors for lung cancer?
Smoking is the leading cause of lung cancer. More than 80 percent of lung cancer deaths are linked to smoking. Women who smoke are more likely to develop lung cancer than men who smoke.
However, you can get lung cancer even if you don’t smoke, and sometimes the cause is never known. Other risk factors can include:
- Exposure to secondhand smoke, air pollution and certain materials such as radiation, arsenic, radon, chromium, nickel, soot, tar and asbestos
- Personal history of lung illnesses, such as emphysema, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) and tuberculosis
- Radiation therapy to the breast or chest
- Family history of lung cancer
What can you do to prevent lung cancer?
Lung cancer may be one of the more preventable cancers. The most important thing you can do to prevent it and to protect those around you is to quit smoking — or never start. The sooner you quit, the better — but it’s never too late. Talk to your doctor if you need help quitting; most people do. You can also avoid secondhand smoke and other pollutants as much as possible to lower your lung cancer risk.
Lung cancer screening cannot prevent lung cancer, but it can help detect it in early stages when it is much easier to treat. It also provides an opportunity for education and help with smoking cessation (quitting).