Lung Cancer

Risk Factors

  • Tobacco Smoke – Smoking is by far the leading risk factor for lung cancer. 80% of lung cancer deaths are thought to result from smoking.
  • Secondhand Smoke – If you don’t smoke, breathing in the smoke of others can increase your risk of developing lung cancer. A non-smoker who lives wit h a smoker has about a 20% to 30% greater risk of developing lung cancer.
  • Radon – Naturally occuring radioactive gas that results from the breakdown of uranium in soil & rocks.
  • Asbestos – Studies have found that people who work with asbestos are several times more likely to die of lung cancer.
  • Workplace Exposure – Carcinogens includes radioactive ores such as uranium, Inhaled chemicals or minerals such as arsenic, beryllium, cadmium, silica, vinyl chloride, nickel compounds, chromium compounds, coal products, mustard gas, chloromethyl ethers, and diesel exhaust.
  • Radiation Therapy to the Lungs – People who have had radiation therapy to the chest for other cancers.
  • Personal or Family History
  • Certain Dietary Supplements – 2 large studies found that smokers who took beta carotene supplements had an increased risk. The results of these studies suggest that smokers should avoid taking beta carotene supplements.
  • Air Pollution – Air pollution (especially from heavily traffiked roads) appears to raise the risk.

Warning Signs & Symptoms

  • A cough that does not go away or gets worse
  • Chest pain that is often worse wit hdeep breathing, coughing, or laughing
  • Hoarseness
  • Weight loss and loss of appetite
  • Coughing up blood or rust-colored sputum (spit or phlegm)
  • Shortness of breath
  • Feeling tired or weak
  • Infections such as bronchitis and pneumonia that don’t go away or keep coming back
  • New onset of wheezing

When lung cancer spreads to distant organs, it may cause:

  • Bone pain (like pain in the back or hips)
  • Neurologic changes (such as headache, weakness or numbness of an arm or leg, dizziness, balance problems, or seizures)
  • Jaundice (yellowing of the skin and eyes)
  • Lumps near the surface of the body, due to cancer spreading to the skin or to lymph nodes (collections of immune system cells) in the neck or above the collarbone.


Most lung cancers are not found until they start to cause symptoms. Symptoms can suggest that a person may have lung cancer, but the actual diagnosis is made by looking at lung cells under a microscope. Most lung cancers do not cause any symptoms until they have spread too far to be cured, but symptoms do occur in some people with early lung cancer. If you go to your docotr when you first notice symptoms, your cancer might be diagnosed at an earlier stage, when treatment is more liekly to be effective.

Early Detection Saves Lives!

This information was provided by the American Cancer Society. © 2013 American Cancer Society, Inc. All rights reserved. The American Cancer Society is a qualified 501[c][3] tax-exempt organization.