The majority of lung cancer is caused by smoking. It is one cancer for which we have biochemical evidence linking the carcinogens in tobacco products with the development of cancer. We also know how people can drastically reduce their risk of getting lung cancer. Never starting to smoke or quitting smoking are the best ways to reduce your chances of getting lung cancer.
Learn more about smoking cessation and classes through Northwestern Memorial Hospital.
Although most people who get lung cancer are smokers, people who used to smoke, and people who had significant exposure to secondhand smoke, there is a small percentage of people with lung cancer who never smoked nor had prolonged exposure to smoke. In these cases, there may not be a clear, identifiable cause of cancer, but there are some risk factors that have been associated with development of lung cancer. They are:
- Exposure to uranium
- Exposure to radon
- Exposure to certain chemicals and carcinogens
- Exposure to asbestos in the absence of smoking can lead to a different chest malignancy called mesothelioma. When combined with smoking, asbestos exposed patients do have a higher risk of developing lung cancer.
The lung can also serve a site of spread from other types of cancers, meaning a cancer that began somewhere else in the body spreads via the bloodstream to the lungs. These are called secondary or metastatic tumors.
If you are concerned about lung cancer or other lung diseases, please contact your physician to discuss ways to reduce your risk and whether or not you should be screened for cancer. If you do not have a physician, you may request a first time appointment with a member of our thoracic oncology team by calling 312-695-3800 or call our Physician Referral Service at 1-877-926-4664. You may also request a first time appointment online.