Prevention & Risk Factors for Lung Cancer

Smoking, or exposure to tobacco products in any form, is the major risk factor for lung cancer. Nonsmokers who breathe the smoke of others, often called secondhand smoke, are also at increased risk for lung cancer.

If you smoke, you can reduce your risk for lung cancer — and the risk for those around you — by stopping now. If you’ve 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 more effectively.

Pictured: Jamie Ostroff
Tobacco Treatment Program
Since the mid-1990s, Memorial Sloan Kettering’s Tobacco Treatment Program has helped thousands of individuals stop using tobacco products.
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Sometimes, there’s no clear reason why a person develops lung cancer. In fact, up to 20 percent of people with non-small cell lung cancer have never smoked.

That said, people who have smoked but recently quit and those who continue to smoke are at ten to 20 times the risk of people who have never smoked. If you’re a current or former smoker, you may want to consider screening for lung cancer. We offer an online tool that can help you better understand your risk as well as screening services for those who are at high risk.

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