Lung cancer is one of the most commonly diagnosed cancers in the United States for men and women. In 2022 alone an estimated 236,740 people will be diagnosed with lung cancer This cancer is often diagnosed in older individuals, especially people over 65.
Lung cancer is also one of the deadliest forms of cancer. It accounts for almost 25% of all cancer deaths. In fact, lung cancer kills more people each year than colon, breast, and prostate cancer combined.
However, lung cancer is also preventable. The risk factors for lung cancer are primarily within your control, and you can manage your risk for lung cancer.
Risk Factors for Lung Cancer
The #1 risk factor for lung cancer is cigarette smoking. Smoking is directly linked to 80-90% of lung cancer deaths. Using other products like cigars and pipes can also contribute to this risk.
People who smoke are 15 to 30 times more likely to get or die from lung cancer. Even occasional tobacco use can increase your risk of getting lung cancer.
Secondhand smoke can also increase the risk of developing lung cancer. From 2013 to 2014, 25% of non-smokers were exposed to secondhand smoke. That included 14 million children.
Radon is a natural gas that forms in rocks, soil, and water. It can enter homes through cracks or holes in buildings or homes and can become trapped and build up. Because radon has no taste or smell, it is not detectable without special testing.
Radon testing is recommended if your home has never been tested, before buying or selling, and especially after renovations.
As with most cancers, family history can play a role in your risk. This especially applies if your parents, siblings, or children have had any form of lung cancer. It is important to inform your doctor of any family history of cancer, so they can create a screening plan.
Managing Your Risk
The biggest way to decrease your risk of developing lung cancer is to stop smoking. Quitting smoking, even if you’ve smoked for years, reduces your risk of cancer, and can also help those around you by protecting them from secondhand smoke.
Testing your home for radon can also help manage your risk if you believe there could be radon in your home or water supply. If your home does have high radon levels, there are steps you can take to correct the problem.
Another way to reduce your risk of lung cancer, and improve your overall health, is to make basic lifestyle changes. Being active and eating a diet with fruit and vegetables will improve your health in numerous ways.
No matter what steps you need to take to reduce your risk of lung cancer, EPIC Health can help. We offer smoking cessation options, as well as programs to help you become more active and develop healthier eating habits.
EPIC Health can also complete your annual cancer screenings and manage any and all of your complex health needs.