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Lung Cancer Causes, Risk Factors and Prevention

What Causes Lung Cancer?

Lung cancer is caused by several different risk factors, but smoking continues to be the leading cause. Nonsmokers can also develop lung cancer. Early detection  is less likely for them due to a misperception that they can’t get lung cancer. It’s important to understand the symptoms of lung cancer, even as a nonsmoker. Read on to learn more about other risk factors and tips to prevent lung cancer.


According to the Center for Disease Control (CDC), 80 to 90 percent of lung cancer deaths are associated with smoking cigarettes. If you’re ready to quit smoking, learn more from Banner Health about going tobacco free.

Family History

Has anyone in your family ever been diagnosed with lung cancer? Ensure you are aware of family history to understand your risk.

Other Risk Factors to Consider

While smoking is the biggest risk factor for lung cancer, there are additional risks:

  • Exposure to second-hand smoke
  • Air pollution
  • Lung diseases
  • Exposure to asbestos, arsenic, chromium or other chemicals
  • Previous lung cancer
  • Family history of lung cancer
  • Infection with human immunodeficiency virus (HIV)
  • Exposure to radiation, including radon and radiation therapy to the breast or chest. Being exposed to radiation poses a minor risk factor. The benefits of radiation therapy as a cancer treatment far outweigh the risks.

How to Reduce the Risk of Lung Cancer

While you cannot completely prevent lung cancer, there are ways to reduce your risk. Since smoking is the main risk factor associated with lung cancer, educate friends and family about the danger of tobacco, and, if possible, do not start smoking. Quitting smoking is the best way to reduce your risk for lung cancer. Studies show that if you quit smoking for over 10 years, you can reduce your risk of lung cancer by half of that of a current smoker.

If you believe you are at risk for lung cancer, consider scheduling an appointment with your doctor. Follow these tips to help reduce your risk of lung cancer:

  • Avoid secondhand smoke
  • Quit smoking
  • Use protective equipment when exposed to dangerous substances and pollutants

Ask your doctor if you’re eligible for lung cancer screening, especially if there is a history of lung cancer in your family. Early detection is critical for surviving lung cancer.

Rely on the lung cancer experts from Banner MD Anderson to educate you and your loved ones on lung cancer prevention and treatment.

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