The number-one risk factor for developing lung cancer (non-small cell lung cancer, small cell lung cancer and mesothelioma) is smoking. If you smoke, you should get help quitting. You can call the national Smokers' Helpline (1-800 QUIT-NOW) for programs in your state or ask your primary care doctor for help.
Aside from smoking, you are at increased risk of lung cancer if you have had:
- lung cancer before
- occupational exposure to asbestos
- previous radiation to the chest for treating other cancer
- prolonged exposure to high levels of radon
- chronic high-level exposure to second-hand smoke
Ages 55-80: The U.S. Preventive Services Task Force recommends annual screenings if you've had a 30 pack-year smoking history (meaning about a pack a day for 30 years); are a current smoker; or if you've quit within the past 15 years. Screening consists of a low-dose CT scan, conducted at a specialized center.
Based on your risks, you should discuss the need for screening with your health care provider. At Dana-Farber Cancer Institute, we're conducting ongoing research to determine if certain tests are reliable for further screening.
Find out five things to know about lung cancer.
Ask the expert: Q & A on lung (thoracic) cancer
Watch a video about lung cancer genetic research.
Read about a study that reports success in targeted therapy for common form of lung cancer.