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Are You at Risk for Lung Cancer? Find Out About Lung Cancer Risk Factors Here

Lung cancer is the second leading cause of cancer-related deaths in the United States; about 13 percent of all new cancer cases are lung cancer. The American Cancer Society says that lung cancer is the leading cause of cancer deaths in the nation.

Cancer is a condition characterized by uncontrolled growth of cells. These unhealthy cells can spread to other parts of the body.

Lung Cancer Risk Factors

Certain factors increase your risk of developing lung cancer. Some risk factors are controllable, while others are not. These risk factors for lung cancer include:


Your risk for lung cancer increases with every cigarette you smoke and with every year you continue smoking. Cigarette smoking is the number one risk factor for smoking, and is associated with 80 to 90 percent of all lung cancer deaths, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). People who smoke are 15 to 30 times more likely to develop lung cancer than are non-smokers. Tobacco smoke contains a toxic mixture of more than 7,000 chemicals; about 70 of these chemicals are known to cause cancer in humans or in animals. Quitting smoking at any age can reduce your risk of developing lung cancer, but your risk is still higher than for those who have never smoked.

Exposure to Secondhand Smoke

Non-smokers exposed to secondhand smoke have a 20 to 30 percent higher risk for lung cancer than do non-smokers who are not exposed to secondhand smoke, according to the CDC.

Exposure to Radon Gas

Radon occurs naturally as the result of breakdown of uranium in soil, rocks and water; the gas then escapes into the air. Radon causes nearly 20,000 cases of lung cancer each year.

Exposure to Carcinogens

Carcinogens are compounds known to cause cancer. Exposure to asbestos, arsenic, chromium and nickel can increase your risk of developing lung cancer, particularly if you are a smoker

Family History of Lung Cancer

Having a parent, grandparent or sibling with lung cancer increases your risk of lung cancer.

Radiation Therapy to the Chest

Cancer patients who have undergone radiation treatments to the chest have a higher risk of developing lung cancer

Diet and Dietary Supplements

Scientists are still investigating how diet affects lung cancer risk; recent studies show that smokers taking beta-carotene supplements have a higher risk of lung cancer.

Lung cancer screening often includes assessing a person’s risk for lung cancer, a physical examination, and imaging. Schedule your appointment with Virtual Imaging today by calling 770.730.0119.