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Cancer Treatment Centers of America

Lung cancer risk factors

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.

cancer risks

Lung cancer risk factors


  • Age: About two out of three lung cancers are diagnosed in people over age 65, and most people are older than 45. The average age at diagnosis is 71.


  • 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.


  • Smoking and secondhand smoke: Smoking is widely considered the leading cause of lung cancer. For those who don't smoke but are exposed to smoke at home or work, secondhand smoke may significantly increase their risk of lung cancer.
  • Exposure to asbestos or other pollutantsCarcinogenic 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.


Last Revised: 10/09/2015

Understanding risk factors

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.

Advanced genomic testing

genomic tumor assessment

We use advanced genomic testing to examine a patient's tumor on a cellular level. This innovative tool can help us find what's driving the cancer's growth and offer patients more precise treatment.