Through dedicated research, scientists have identified several risk factors for lung cancer. While some of these factors, like a patent’s genetics, can’t be changed, others can be diminished through lifestyle adjustments.
Smoking is the number one risk factor for lung cancer. Approximately 80 percent of all lung cancer deaths are thought to be caused by smoking. Cigarettes contain a number of carcinogens, and smoking introduces those toxins into the lungs. Inhaling another person’s smoke (secondhand smoke exposure) is also a known risk factor.
While a person’s lung cancer risk goes up with the number of cigarettes they smoke per day and the number of years they have smoked, their risk can go down if they are able to stop smoking.
Other lung cancer risk factors include:
- Exposure to radon, air pollution or other environmental hazards
- Exposure to asbestos, diesel exhaust, silica, coal products or other occupational carcinogens
- A personal or family history of lung cancer
- A history of receiving radiation therapy to the chest (i.e., for a previous diagnosis of Hodgkin disease or breast cancer)
- A history of taking beta carotene supplements
It’s important to keep in mind that although these lung cancer risk factors can increase a person’s chances of developing the condition, that doesn’t necessarily mean they will develop cancer. At Moffitt Cancer Center, we help each patient evaluate their lung cancer risk factors and determine next steps. For instance, long-time smokers may benefit from our lung cancer screening program, which is among the best in the nation. In fact, Moffitt has been named a Screening Center of Excellence by the Lung Cancer Alliance.
No referral is required to meet with our experienced team of oncologists specializing in lung cancer. To make an appointment with a Moffitt oncologist, request a new patient appointment online or call 1-888-MOFFITT.