Lung Cancer

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Common Causes of Lung Cancer

Lung cancer causes more than one million deaths annually. The cancer can start anywhere in the lungs, and it can rapidly spread to other parts of the body. Here are the primary causes of lung cancer in the United States.


More than half of all lung cancer diagnosis are attributed to tobacco use. The rate of cancer increases with the amount of cigarettes smoked per day. Doctors factor in the number of cigarettes smoked per day and the number of years a person has smoked to calculate lung cancer risk.

Secondhand Smoke

Sharing a workplace or living space with smokers can cause lung cancer in non-smokers. Almost a quarter of non-smokers living with a smoker develop lung cancer. Every year, three thousand lung cancer cases are attributed to secondhand smoke.

Asbestos fibers

Asbestos is banned in several countries, but many people are still developing lung cancer due to exposure several years ago. Most people were exposed to asbestos in workplace settings. In the past, asbestos was used in insulation materials.

Radon Gas

Radon gas is found in uranium. Twelve percent of lung cancer cases are attributed to radon gas. The gas can be detected with a monitor. It is odorless, and it enters homes through cracks in the foundation and pipes. The EPA estimates almost a quarter of homes in the United States have toxic levels of radon gas.

Family History

Lung cancer can be hereditary. Certain genes make people more prone to develop lung cancer. Studies have confirmed people with family members diagnosed with lung cancer are more likely to develop lung cancer regardless of tobacco use.

Lung Diseases

People diagnosed with COPD have a higher risk of developing lung cancer. The risk remains high even after a person with COPD has quit smoking. Other lung diseases can also cause lung cancer, but people with COPD have the highest risk.

People diagnosed with lung cancer have a fifteen percent chance of surviving beyond five years. Fortunately, quitting smoking and staying away from secondhand smoke are the best ways to reduce the odds of developing lung cancer.

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