What are the chances?
Lung cancer is the most common type of cancer worldwide — around 222,500 new cases will be diagnosed in the United States this year, mostly among smokers. A growing number of cases are being found in people who never smoked, which means factors like the environment or genetics may be involved.
Common early symptoms:
- A cough that does not go away
- Shortness of breath or other breathing problems like wheezing
- Constant chest pain
- Coughing up blood or rust-colored spit
- Changes in your voice ie, hoarse, raspy or high pitched
- Frequent lung infections like pneumonia and bronchitis
- Arm or shoulder pain
- Unintended weight loss
- Inherited mutations alone are not thought to cause very many lung cancers.
Risk factors/lifestyle factors:
- Smoking cigarettes is responsible for between 80 to 90 percent of lung cancer deaths in men and women — and the more you smoke, the higher your risk. Just being around cigarette smoke also can affect your risk: Being exposed to secondhand smoke at home or work increases the chances of lung cancer by 20 to 30 percent.
- Being exposed to radon is the second leading cause of lung cancer. It occurs naturally in soil, water and rock and can be found in homes, buildings and schools.
- Asbestos fibers are inhaled and can become lodged in lung tissue. In the past, asbestos used to be a common ingredient in things like building materials, steam pipes, vehicle brake shoes and plastics. Although asbestos was banned as a new material decades ago, it is still present in the environment.
- Exposure to materials like uranium, arsenic, vinyl chloride, coal products, mustard gas, diesel exhaust and others may increase your risk of lung cancer.
- Breathing in air pollution like diesel engine exhaust, metals, dust and solvents — found in products like paint, personal care products, nail polish remover and household cleaners — may increase your risk for lung cancer.