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Risk Factors for Lung Cancer

June 10, 2008 - 7:30am
 
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A risk factor is something that increases your chances of developing cancer.

It is possible to develop lung cancer with or without the risk factors listed below. However, the more risk factors you have, the greater your likelihood of developing lung cancer. If you have a number of risk factors, ask your health care provider what you can do to reduce your risk.

Risk factors for lung cancer include the following:

Smoking

Substances in cigarettes, cigars, and other tobacco products have been shown to cause lung cancer. How long you have smoked, the amount and type of products, and whether you have inhaled affect your level of risk.

Secondhand Smoke

Breathing smoke in the air caused by someone else smoking increases your risk of lung cancer. It exposes you to the substances found to cause lung cancer.

Medical Conditions

Lung diseases, such as tuberculosis (TB), cause scarring of the lungs. Lung tissues scarred by TB seem to be more prone to lung cancer. A person who has had lung cancer is at greater risk than other people to develop another tumor.

Age

The risk of lung cancer begins to increase at age 40. It is uncommon in people younger than 40. It typically takes many years for lung cancer to develop.

Environmental Toxins

Exposure to radon, asbestos, coal dust, or air pollution can damage your lungs and increase your risk of lung cancer.

Genetics

Researchers suspect that a genetic mutation may make some people more likely to develop lung cancer than others.

Sources:

American Cancer Society

American Lung Association

Bast R. Cancer Medicine e5 . Hamilton, Ontario: B.C. Decker Inc.; 2000.

National Cancer Institute



Last reviewed February 2003 by Jondavid Pollock, MD, PhD

Please be aware that this information is provided to supplement the care provided by your physician. It is neither intended nor implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice. CALL YOUR HEALTHCARE PROVIDER IMMEDIATELY IF YOU THINK YOU MAY HAVE A MEDICAL EMERGENCY. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider prior to starting any new treatment or with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition.

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