Lung Cancer Prevention & Risk Factors

Lung Cancer Prevention & Risk Factors


The major risk factor for lung cancer is smoking, or exposure to any kind of tobacco product. Nonsmokers who breathe in other people’s smoke (secondhand smoke) also are at higher risk for lung cancer.

If you smoke, you can lower your risk for lung cancer by stopping now. That will also lower the risk for people around you. If you have been diagnosed with lung cancer or are in treatment, it’s not too late to quit. Research shows that quitting smoking can make chemotherapy work better.

Sometimes, there’s no clear reason why a person gets lung cancer. In fact, out of every 10 people with non-small cell lung cancer, about 2 of them never smoked.

People who smoke, and people who smoked but recently quit, are at higher risk for lung cancer. They are 10 to 20 times more at risk than someone who never smoked. If you’re a current or former smoker, you may want to consider screening for lung cancer. MSK offers an online tool that can help you understand your risk. We also have screening services for people who are at high risk.

Other risk factors include exposure to asbestos or radon. These toxic (poisonous or harmful) substances can damage the lungs, leading to cancer.

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Lung Cancer: Why One of The Most Common Cancers is Also The Most Stigmatized
Did you know lung cancer is more deadly than breast, colon and prostate cancers combined? Yet it gets less than half the funding. Why is that? In this episode, Dr. Diane Reidy-Lagunes sits down with thoracic surgeon and attending physician at MSK, Dr. Bernard Park, and chair of the Lung Cancer Research Foundation, Reina Honts, to discuss why one of the most common cancers is also the most stigmatized.