Lung Cancer Risk Factors
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What Are the Risk Factors for Lung Cancer?
Smoking tobacco is the number one risk factor for lung cancer, although people who have never smoked can develop lung cancer, too. If you have been smoking for years, you may believe it is "too late" to quit. However, quitting at any point in time reduces your risk for developing lung cancer, as well as other cancers.
According to the American Cancer Society, as early as two weeks after quitting smoking, your lung function improves. Quitting smoking also helps you if you have already been diagnosed with lung cancer.
Aside from tobacco, there are other lung cancer risk factors that may increase a person’s chance of developing the disease, including:
- Secondhand Smoke – Exposure to smoke at home or work may significantly increase a person’s lung cancer risks.
- Age – About 2 out of 3 lung cancers are diagnosed in people over age 65, and most people are older than 45. The average age at diagnosis is 71.
- Exposure to Asbestos or Other Pollutants – Carcinogenic chemicals in the workplace increase lung cancer risk, especially if you smoke.
- Exposure to Radon – Radon is a colorless, scentless radioactive gas that is found in some houses and is a leading cause of lung cancer.
- Genetics & Family History – Genetics may predispose certain people to lung cancer. Individuals with an immediate family member who has or had lung cancer (and who does not or did not smoke) may be more prone to developing the disease.
Sometimes the disease develops in people without any lung cancer risk factors.
NOTE: Anything that increases your risk of getting a disease is called a risk factor. Having a risk factor does not mean that you will get cancer. Not having risk factors doesn’t mean that you will not get cancer. If you think you may be at risk, you should discuss it with your doctor.
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