Lung Cancer Prevention
Doctors cannot always explain why one person gets cancer
and another doesn't.
However, scientists have studied general patterns of cancer in the population to
learn what things around us and what things we do in our lives may increase our
chance of developing cancer.
Anything that increases a person's chance of developing a
disease is called a
risk factor; anything that decreases a person's chance of developing a disease
is called a protective factor. Some of the risk factors for cancer can be
avoided, but many cannot. For example, although you can choose to quit smoking,
you cannot choose which genes you have inherited from your parents. Both smoking
and inheriting specific genes could be considered risk factors for certain kinds
of cancer, but only smoking can be avoided. Prevention means avoiding the risk
factors and increasing the protective factors that can be controlled so that the
chance of developing cancer decreases.
Although many risk factors can be avoided, it is
important to keep in mind
that avoiding risk factors does not guarantee that you will not get cancer.
Also, most people with a particular risk factor for cancer do not actually get
the disease. Some people are more sensitive than others are to factors that can
cause cancer. Talk to your doctor about methods of preventing cancer that might
be effective for you.
Purposes of this summary on lung
The purposes of this summary on lung cancer prevention
- Give information on lung cancer and how often it
- Describe lung cancer prevention methods.
- Give current facts about which people or groups of people would most
likely be helped by following lung cancer prevention methods.
You can talk to your doctor or health care professional about cancer
prevention methods and whether they would be likely to help you.
Lung Cancer Prevention
The lungs are part of the respiratory system. Their function is to supply
oxygen to the blood while removing carbon dioxide.
cancer may spread to the lymph nodes or other tissues in the chest
(including the other lung). In many cases, lung cancer may also spread to other
organs of the body, such as the bones, brain, or liver.
Significance of lung cancer
Lung cancer is the leading cause of cancer deaths in U.S. men and women.
Lung cancer prevention
Lung cancer can often be associated with known risk factors for the disease.
Many risk factors are modifiable though not all can be avoided.
- Tobacco: Studies show that smoking tobacco products in any form
is the major cause of lung cancer. People who stop smoking and never start
again lower their risk of developing lung cancer or of having lung cancer
recur (come back). Many products, such as nicotine gum, nicotine sprays,
nicotine inhalers, nicotine patches, or nicotine lozenges, may be helpful to
people trying to quit smoking, as well as antidepressant drugs. In addition,
a number of efforts at the community, state, and national level have helped
to reduce smoking rates.
Second-hand tobacco smoke also causes lung cancer. This is smoke
that comes from a burning cigarette or other tobacco product, or smoke that
is exhaled by smokers. People who inhale second-hand smoke are exposed to
the same cancer-causing agents as smokers, although in weaker amounts.
Inhaling second-hand smoke is called involuntary or passive smoking.
- Environmental Causes: There are other causes of lung cancer in
the environment, but their effect on lung cancer rates is small compared to
the effect of cigarette smoking.
- Cancer-causing agents that may be found indoors, especially in
the workplace, include asbestos, radon , arsenic, chromium, nickel, tar and
soot. These substances can cause lung cancer in never-smokers, and combine
with cigarette smoke to further increase lung cancer risk in smokers. Many
countries are working to control these cancer-causing agents in the
- Air pollution may also increase the risk of lung cancer. Studies
show that lung cancer rates are higher in cities with higher levels of air
- Beta Carotene: Studies show that heavy smokers who avoid taking
beta carotene supplements may avoid further increasing their risk of lung
cancer compared with smokers who do take beta carotene.
- Diet and Physical Activity: Studies show that a diet rich
in fruit, and possibly vegetables, may help lower the risk of lung cancer,
while heavy alcohol drinking may increase the risk of lung cancer. In
addition, studies show that people who are physically active may have a
lower risk of lung cancer than those who are not, even after taking
cigarette smoking into account.
- Chemoprevention: Chemoprevention is the use of specific natural
or man-made drugs to reverse, suppress, or prevent cancer growth.
Chemoprevention is an area of active clinical research. It has not yet
become standard therapy.
Source: National Cancer
Last Editorial Review: 1/5/2006