Advertisement

Who is affected by lung cancer?

Both men and women are affected by lung cancer, and it occurs among all ethnic groups as well. Age plays some role because the vast majority of lung cancer patients are over 50 years of age. However, it rarely occurs in younger people in their 20s and 30s.

Lung cancer is a disease contracted predominately by people who habitually smoke cigarettes or other tobacco products. Although not all lung cancer patients are smokers, the vast majority (85-90%) have a significant smoking history. There is a proven biochemical link between cancer-causing chemicals (known as "carcinogens") in cigarette smoke and the development of lung cancer. The risk of cancer increases with smoking duration (years) and intensity (packs per day). Smoking cessation will decrease the risk of lung cancer; however it takes 5 years before the risk begins to decline and though it gradually decreases, it will never quite reach the baseline level of a person who has never smoked. Even 20 years after stopping smoking, an ex-smoker with a "20 pack year" history (1 pack a day for 20 years) remains twice as likely to get lung cancer as a lifelong nonsmoker.

There is a somewhat lower risk of lung cancer development from exposure to second-hand tobacco smoke as well as exposure to materials such as radon, uranium, beryllium and silica.
William D. Bolton, MD
Thoracic Surgery (Cardiothoracic Vascular)
Lung cancer is the leading cause of cancer-related death in the United States.  Lung cancer can affect anyone. However, it occurs most commonly in people who smoke cigarettes. Others at risk include people who are exposed to secondhand smoke or those who have environmental risk factors, such as exposure to radon gas, asbestos, arsenic, silica, and chromium. 
The contents of this website are for informational purposes only and are not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Nor does the contents of this website constitute the establishment of a physician patient or therapeutic relationship. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition.

Continue Learning about Lung Cancer

Lung Cancer and the Risk of Serious Infection
Lung Cancer and the Risk of Serious Infection
Infections are a frequent and potentially fatal complication in patients who have lung cancer. A study published in the Archives of Pathology and Labo...
Read More
How does lung cancer spread?
Elwyn C. Cabebe, MDElwyn C. Cabebe, MD
Lung cancer spreads in various ways, says oncologist Elwyn Cabebe, MD, of Good Samaritan Hospital. I...
More Answers
Are lung cancer screenings covered by insurance?
Dr. Behrooz Shabahang, MDDr. Behrooz Shabahang, MD
Medicare, Medicaid and most commercial insurance companies provide coverage for lung cancer screenin...
More Answers
What Are the Risks of Lung Surgery for Lung Cancer?
What Are the Risks of Lung Surgery for Lung Cancer?

Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.