2111 Lung Cancer prevention and early detection

PREVENT

Lung cancer: Prevention and early detection

  • Lung cancer is the number one cause of cancer deaths for men and women in our country.
  • More people die of lung cancer each year than colon, breast and prostate cancers combined.
  • 80-85% of lung cancer is caused by smoking

Smoking and tobacco use has been trending downward for decades. Despite that trend lung cancer is the number one cause of cancer deaths for men and women in our country. In fact, more people die of lung cancer each year than colon, breast and prostate cancers combined. Read more about the prevention and early detection of lung cancer.

Causes of lung cancer

Smoking is the most common risk for developing lung cancer. Eight out of 10 lung cancers are caused by smoking. Other risk factors that can cause lung cancer include exposure to:

  • secondhand tobacco smoke
  • radon
  • other cancer-causing agents targeting the lungs such as asbestos, diesel fumes, soot and smoke.

High-risk occupations for lung cancer

Some work can put you at a higher risk of developing lung cancer, including jobs you may breathe in asbestos, chemicals, dirt, dust, fibers, metals, soot and smoke. Prolonged exposure can lead to a greater risk of lung and airway damage.

Symptoms of lung cancer

Lung cancer may or may not cause symptoms, especially early on. When symptoms do happen they can include:

  • a cough that lasts or gets worse over time
  • a hoarse voice
  • blood in mucus
  • fatigue that lasts
  • pain in your chest
  • pain when swallowing
  • pneumonia
  • shortness of breath
  • weight loss
  • wheezing.

Lung cancer prevention

The best way to prevent lung cancer is to:

  • not smoke
  • avoid secondhand tobacco smoke

To protect yourself from work-related risks:

  • minimize your exposure to particulate matter and gases by wearing protective gear such as goggles, masks and clothing
  • depend on experts trained to do specific work such as asbestos removal.
  • improve room ventilation.

Lung cancer screening

Your primary care provider may recommend lung cancer screening depending on your age, smoking history and your quit date. You'll talk about your general health and whether you have any symptoms related to your lungs before making a final decision. Your provider will take into account your general health and whether you have any symptoms related to your lungs before making a final decision.

The screening is done with computed tomography (CT) which gives more detail than a chest X-ray. A screening can find lung cancer early when it is most treatable. Once you have a first lung cancer screening your provider may recommend an annual recheck. It is important to follow your primary care provider’s recommendations and follow-up with any questions. 

Review our lung cancer screening decision-making tool with your provider.

Easily schedule a lung cancer screening if:

  • You are between the age of 55 and 80.
  • You smoke now and have quit within the last 15 years.
  • You have a “30 pack-year” history of heavy smoking. This means you have smoked one pack of cigarettes a day for 20 years or similar.
  • You have no signs or symptoms of lung cancer.

Find a lung cancer screening center near you.

Lung cancer treatment

If you are diagnosed with lung cancer your health care provider will refer you to a cancer care expert for treatment.

 

WHAT YOU CAN DO

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