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Who is more likely to suffer from lung cancer?

Elwyn C. Cabebe, MD
Hematology & Oncology
Smokers may have the highest risk for lung cancer, but others can be at risk, too. In this video, oncologist Elwyn Cabebe, MD, of Good Samaritan Hospital describes risk factors that may affect non-smokers.
If you smoked a pack a day for 20 years or more, you’re at increased risk of lung cancer. If you have a first-degree relative who has had lung cancer and you’re a smoker, you definitely should be screened.
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.
Raja M. Flores, MD
Thoracic Surgery (Cardiothoracic Vascular)
Lung cancer used to be a male disease, but it's now on the rise in women. In this video, Raja Flores, MD, thoracic surgeon at The Mount Sinai Medical Center, explains why women make up 50 percent of lung cancer cases.

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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.