It is widely known that smoking dramatically increases the risk of lung cancer. In the U.S., 80-90% of lung cancers are linked to cigarette smoking. However, there are other additional risk factors for developing lung cancer including:
Even if you don’t smoke, exposure to secondhand smoke increases your risk for lung cancer. In fact, exposure to secondhand smoke increases the risk of lung cancer by as much as 20-30%.
Exposure to Radon Gas
Radon, which is naturally present in the atmosphere, is produced by the breakdown of uranium in soil, rock, and water. High levels can accumulate in certain areas, which increases the risk of lung cancer. Radon tests are often required during the process of purchasing a home, but not all states require this test. You may purchase your own test kit anytime at a home improvement store.
Exposure to Asbestos
Prior to 1970, asbestos was widely used in building materials and consumer products. Although laws have been enacted to limit the use of and exposure to asbestos, it is still present in many older buildings and products. Prolonged exposure to asbestos increases the risk of lung cancer, especially in people who also smoke.
Family History of Lung Cancer
Most lung cancers are caused by smoking, or other risk factors including secondhand smoke, exposure to radon gas, or asbestos. However, it is possible to develop lung cancer even if you have never had prolonged exposure to smoke or other carcinogens. Anyone with a family history of lung cancer (in a nonsmoker) may be at an increased risk for lung cancer.
Lung Cancer Screening
Low dose CT (LDCT) lung screening is recommended for anyone at high risk for lung cancer. Smokers are considered high risk if they are between 55-80 years old, currently smoke or have quit within the past 15 years, and have a 30 pack-year smoking history. Nonsmokers with additional risk factors should speak with their doctor to determine if lung cancer screening is necessary. The cost of low dose CT lung screening is covered by Medicare and many private insurance companies for patients who are considered to have a high risk of lung cancer.
Raleigh Radiology offers low dose lung cancer screening at four convenient locations: