Causes of Lung Cancer

There are several known causes of lung cancer. Studies have repeatedly confirmed that smoking is the number one cause of the condition, with approximately 90 percent of all lung cancers stemming from tobacco use (or secondhand exposure to someone else’s smoke). Whenever tobacco smoke (or another carcinogen) is introduced into the body, subtle damage can occur in the lung’s tissues. At first, the body may be able to repair this damage. However, as the damage accumulates, it can cause cancerous changes in the formerly healthy cells. Eventually, lung cancer can develop. 

Many individual factors can play a role in whether or not a former smoker will develop lung cancer. For instance, smokers who consumed three packs of cigarettes per day for 10 years (leading to a 30-pack per year smoking history) will have a higher risk of developing lung cancer than smokers who consumed a few individual cigarettes per day for a shorter period of time.  Other causes of lung cancer include exposure to: 

  • Asbestos
  • Radon
  • Silica
  • Diesel Exhaust

Not everyone who smokes or comes into contact with one of the carcinogens above will become ill. There’s still much to be learned about the way the condition develops, and at Moffitt Cancer Center, we’re proud to be leading the way in lung cancer research. We not only conduct a wide range of clinical trials and lab studies, but also use our findings to shape the way in which we treat our patients. For these efforts, we’ve been named a Lung Cancer Center of Excellence by the National Cancer Institute. If you’d like to learn more about the causes of lung cancer or would like to schedule an appointment with a member of our lung cancer team, call 1-888-MOFFITT, or request an appointment. No referral is required.