Every smoker is at risk for lung cancer. Smokers are 10 to 20 times more likely to get lung cancer. About 90 percent of lung cancer deaths in men and almost 80 percent of lung cancer deaths in women are due to smoking.
A person’s risk of getting lung cancer from cigarette smoking increases the longer he smokes, the more he smokes, and the deeper he inhales. Smoking low tar cigarettes does not prevent someone from getting lung cancer. Importantly, if a person quits smoking, his risk of getting lung cancer declines. The longer a person goes without smoking, the greater that person’s risk declines. It is never too late to quit because a person’s risk declines somewhat no matter how long he has been smoking.
It is now recommended that physicians discuss lung cancer screening with people who meet certain criteria that put them at higher risk for developing lung cancer. Specifically, the new guidelines recommend doctors discuss lung cancer screening with high-risk patients between the ages of 55 to 74 years and who are in fairly good health.
Although smoking cigarettes is by far the most common and important risk factor for getting lung cancer, there are some environmental exposures that increase a person’s risk for lung cancer as well. People who work with asbestos are more likely to get lung cancer; and if they smoke cigarettes too, their risk rises even higher.
Exposure to radon has been associated with a slightly increased risk of lung cancer.
People who have already had lung cancer are at risk for getting it again.If you currently smoke, or have smoked in the past, it is important to discuss your health and personal risk for developing lung cancer with your physician.