Lung Cancer Risk Factors

Anything that increases your chance of getting lung cancer is a risk factor. Smoking is the main risk factor for lung cancer.

  • Smoking tobacco in cigarettes, cigars or pipes is responsible for 87% of lung cancer cases in the United States
  • The more years you smoke and the greater amount you smoke, the higher your risk of lung cancer
  • If you stop smoking, your risk becomes lower as time goes by
  • if you smoke and have other risk factors, your chance of getting lung cancer is higher

Other risk factors for lung cancer include:

  • Family history of lung cancer
  • Previous lung cancer
  • Exposure to certain materials including radiation, arsenic, radon, chromium, nickel, soot, tar or asbestos
  • Radiation therapy to the breast or chest
  • Air pollution
  • Secondhand smoke
  • Lung diseases such as tuberculosis (TB)
  • With lung cancer, prevention isn’t always easy – especially for smokers. To reduce the risk of lung cancer, don’t smoke cigarettes and avoid second hand smoke when possible. 

Not everyone with risk factors develops lung cancer. However, if you have risk factors, it’s a good idea to discuss them with your doctor.