Risk factorsBy Mayo Clinic Staff
A number of factors may increase your risk of lung cancer. Some risk factors can be controlled, for instance, by quitting smoking. And other factors can't be controlled, such as your family history.
Risk factors for lung cancer include:
Sept. 25, 2015
- Smoking. Your risk of lung cancer increases with the number of cigarettes you smoke each day and the number of years you have smoked. Quitting at any age can significantly lower your risk of developing lung cancer.
- Exposure to secondhand smoke. Even if you don't smoke, your risk of lung cancer increases if you're exposed to secondhand smoke.
Exposure to radon gas. Radon is produced by the natural breakdown of uranium in soil, rock and water that eventually becomes part of the air you breathe. Unsafe levels of radon can accumulate in any building, including homes.
Radon testing kits, which can be purchased at home improvement stores, can determine whether levels are safe. If unsafe levels are discovered, remedies are available.
- Exposure to asbestos and other carcinogens. Workplace exposure to asbestos and other substances known to cause cancer — such as arsenic, chromium and nickel — also can increase your risk of developing lung cancer, especially if you're a smoker.
- Family history of lung cancer. People with a parent, sibling or child with lung cancer have an increased risk of the disease.
- Non-small cell lung cancer. Fort Washington, Pa.: National Comprehensive Cancer Network. http://www.nccn.org/professionals/physician_gls/f_guidelines.asp. Accessed Aug. 27, 2015.
- Estimated new cancer cases and deaths by sex, U.S., 2015. American Cancer Society. http://www.cancer.org/research/cancerfactsstatistics/cancerfactsfigures2015/index. Accessed Aug. 27, 2015.
- Small cell lung cancer. Fort Washington, Pa.: National Comprehensive Cancer Network. http://www.nccn.org/professionals/physician_gls/f_guidelines.asp. Accessed Aug. 27, 2015.
- Niederhuber JE, et al., eds. Cancer of the lung. Abeloff's Clinical Oncology. 5th ed. Philadelphia, Pa.: Churchill Livingstone Elsevier; 2014. http://www.clinicalkey.com. Accessed Aug. 27, 2015.
- What you need to know about lung cancer. National Cancer Institute. http://www.cancer.gov/publications/patient-education/wyntk-lung-cancer. Accessed Aug. 27, 2015.
- Lung cancer prevention (PDQ). National Cancer Institute. http://www.cancer.gov/types/lung/patient/lung-prevention-pdq. Accessed Aug. 27, 2015.
- 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.
- AskMayoExpert. Non-small cell lung cancer. Rochester, Minn.: Mayo Foundation for Medical Education and Research; 2015.
- AskMayoExpert. Small cell lung cancer. Rochester, Minn.: Mayo Foundation for Medical Education and Research; 2015.
- Cook AJ. Decision Support System. Mayo Clinic, Rochester, Minn. March 17, 2015.
- 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://www.cancer.gov/publications/patient-education/taking-time. Accessed Aug. 27, 2015.
- Temel JS, et al. Early palliative care for patients with metastatic non-small-cell lung cancer. New England Journal of Medicine. 2010;363:733.