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Lung Cancer - Step 3: Take Action To Reduce Your Lung Cancer Risk email this page to a friendemail this page
While no one can say that you will never get cancer, there are some things you can do to reduce your risk. For example, cigarette smoking has been definitely established as the primary cause of lung cancer. If you are a smoker, quitting is the most important thing you can do to reduce your risk of getting lung cancer.

What You Can Do

If you are a smoker, quitting is the most important thing you can do to reduce your risk of getting lung cancer.

Find out more:
Basic methods of smoking cessation
Smoking cessation resources
Is lung cancer screening recommended? Lung cancer symptoms

Lung Cancer Risk Reduction Action Tool
Below are risk factors for lung cancer. Select the ones you want to work on and put on your risk reduction list. After you build your list, you can print it out and take it to your doctor to discuss your action plan.

Lung Cancer Risk Factor

What Can I Do To ReduceThis Risk?

Select Items To
Put On My
Risk Reduction
Action List

Cigarette smoking

Quitting smoking will greatly reduce your risk of developing lung cancer. About 10 years after quitting, an ex-smoker’s risk of dying from lung cancer is 30 to 50 percent less than the risk of those who continue to smoke.

Quitting smoking will benefit you at any age. Some older adults may not believe there is a benefit in quitting smoking. In fact, there are many benefits.

  • If you quit smoking before age 50, you have half the risk of dying in the next 16 years compared with people who continue to smoke. By age 54, your overall chance of dying will be similar to that of people the same age who have never smoked.
  • If you quit smoking, you also reduce your risk for cancer of the esophagus, larynx, kidney, pancreas, and cervix as well as your risk for chronic lung disease and heart disease.
  • If you quit smoking before you get pregnant, you can reduce your risk for premature delivery and having a child with low birth weight.

Cigar smoking

The best way to reduce your risk is to quit smoking a cigar and/or a pipe. If you smoke a cigar or pipe, your risk for lung cancer is greater than that of nonsmokers, but less than that of cigarette smokers. If you are a daily cigar smoker who does not inhale, your risk is double that of nonsmokers, but significantly less than that of cigarette smokers. If you moderately inhale five cigars a day, your risk is comparable to the risk from smoking up to one pack of cigarettes a day.

Environmental tobacco smoke

The most important thing you can do to reduce your exposure to secondhand smoke is not to allow smoking in your home or car. Approximately 3,000 lung cancer deaths occur each year among adult nonsmokers in the United States as a result of exposure to secondhand smoke. Scientists do not know what amount of exposure to secondhand smoke, if any, is safe. They do know that nonsmokers who live with smokers in homes where smoking is allowed are at the greatest risk for suffering the negative health effects of secondhand smoke exposure.


Buy a radon kit (available in most hardware stores) that allows you to measure the radon levels in your home. The home radon test is relatively easy to use and inexpensive. Once a radon problem is corrected, the hazard is gone for good.


If you are exposed to asbestos in your work, you should use the protective equipment provided by your employer and follow recommended work practices and safety procedures.

If you are concerned about any past exposure to asbestos, talk to your doctor.

Generally, those who develop asbestos-related diseases show no signs of illness for a long time after their first exposure. It can take from 10 to 40 years for symptoms of an asbestos-related condition to appear. Not all workers exposed to asbestos will develop diseases related to their exposure. The risk varies with the type of industry in which the exposure occurs and with the extent of the exposure.

Lung diseases

If you have had tuberculosis (TB) or any chronic lung disease, check with your health care provider about the need to be screened for lung cancer.

Personal history

If you have a personal history of lung cancer, check with your health care provider about the need to be screened. If you are a smoker, quitting smoking after lung cancer is diagnosed may prevent the development of a second lung cancer.

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