There's no sure way to prevent lung cancer, but you can reduce your risk if you:
March 19, 2014
- Don't smoke. If you've never smoked, don't start. Talk to your children about not smoking so that they can understand how to avoid this major risk factor for lung cancer. Begin conversations about the dangers of smoking with your children early so that they know how to react to peer pressure.
- Stop smoking. Stop smoking now. Quitting reduces your risk of lung cancer, even if you've smoked for years. Talk to your doctor about strategies and stop-smoking aids that can help you quit. Options include nicotine replacement products, medications and support groups.
- Avoid secondhand smoke. If you live or work with a smoker, urge him or her to quit. At the very least, ask him or her to smoke outside. Avoid areas where people smoke, such as bars and restaurants, and seek out smoke-free options.
- Test your home for radon. Have the radon levels in your home checked, especially if you live in an area where radon is known to be a problem. High radon levels can be remedied to make your home safer. For information on radon testing, contact your local department of public health or a local chapter of the American Lung Association.
- Avoid carcinogens at work. Take precautions to protect yourself from exposure to toxic chemicals at work. Follow your employer's precautions. For instance, if you're given a face mask for protection, always wear it. Ask your doctor what more you can do to protect yourself at work. Your risk of lung damage from workplace carcinogens increases if you smoke.
- Eat a diet full of fruits and vegetables. Choose a healthy diet with a variety of fruits and vegetables. Food sources of vitamins and nutrients are best. Avoid taking large doses of vitamins in pill form, as they may be harmful. For instance, researchers hoping to reduce the risk of lung cancer in heavy smokers gave them beta carotene supplements. Results showed the supplements actually increased the risk of cancer in smokers.
- Exercise most days of the week. If you don't exercise regularly, start out slowly. Try to exercise most days of the week.
- Non-small cell lung cancer. Fort Washington, Pa.: National Comprehensive Cancer Network. http://www.nccn.org/professionals/physician_gls/f_guidelines.asp. Accessed Sept. 3, 2013.
- Estimated new cancer cases and deaths by sex for all sites, U.S., 2011. American Cancer Society. http://www.cancer.org/research/cancerfactsstatistics/cancerfactsfigures2013/index. Accessed Sept. 3, 2013.
- Small cell lung cancer. Fort Washington, Pa.: National Comprehensive Cancer Network. http://www.nccn.org/professionals/physician_gls/f_guidelines.asp. Accessed Sept. 3, 2013.
- Abeloff MD, et al. Abeloff's Clinical Oncology. 4th ed. Philadelphia, Pa.: Churchill Livingstone Elsevier; 2008. http://www.clinicalkey.com. Accessed Sept. 3, 2013.
- What you need to know about lung cancer. National Cancer Institute. http://www.cancer.gov/cancertopics/wyntk/lung. Accessed Sept. 3, 2013.
- Lung cancer prevention (PDQ). National Cancer Institute. http://www.cancer.gov/cancertopics/pdq/prevention/lung. Accessed Sept. 3, 2013.
- Aberle DR, et al. Reduced lung-cancer mortality with low-dose computed tomographic screening. New England Journal of Medicine. 2011;365:395.
- Detterbeck FC, et al. Diagnosis and management of lung cancer, 3rd ed.: American College of Chest Physicians evidence-based clinical practice guidelines. Chest. 2013;143(suppl):7S.
- Xalkori (prescribing information). New York, N.Y.: Pfizer Labs; 2013. www.xalkori.com. Accessed Sept. 3, 2013.
- Avastin (prescribing information). South San Francisco, Calif.: Genentech Inc.; 2013. http://www.avastin.com/patient. Accessed Sept. 3, 2013.
- Tarceva (prescribing information). Farmingdale, N.Y.: OSI Pharmaceuticals LLC; 2013. http://www.tarceva.com/patient/considering/index.jsp. Accessed Sept. 3, 2013.
- Cairns LM. Managing breathlessness in patients with lung cancer. Nursing Standard. 2012;27:44.
- Taking time: Support for people with cancer. National Cancer Institute. http://cancer.gov/cancertopics/takingtime. Accessed Sept. 3, 2013.
- Temel JS, et al. Early palliative care for patients with metastatic non-small-cell lung cancer. New England Journal of Medicine. 2010;363:733.
- Moynihan TJ (expert opinion). Mayo Clinic, Rochester, Minn. Sept. 16, 2013.
You Are ... The Campaign for Mayo Clinic
Mayo Clinic is a not-for-profit organization. Make a difference today.