Prevention of Lung Cancer
The best way to prevent lung cancer is to not start smoking and avoid second-hand tobacco smoke. Cigarette smoking is the major cause of lung cancer. Historically, 80-90 % of lung cancers have occurred in current or former smokers.
- Statewide tobacco control programs, which involve a mix of public education, print media campaigns, preventing children from getting tobacco, limiting advertising, creation of smoke-free environments, anti-smoking programs at work, health professional training on cessation techniques to offer patients, and school-based smoking prevention lessons have had the most success.
An additional step to avoid development of lung cancer is smoking cessation. The relative risk of developing lung cancer declines in former smokers to about twice that of those who never smoked after 20 years of not smoking. However, it remains high forever.
- Currently in the United States about half of all those who have ever smoked are now former smokers. As more current smokers stop smoking, the lung cancer rates will go down and an increased number of lung cancer cases will occur in former smokers. Today, 50% of lung cancers develop in former smokers.
- Unfortunately, most clinical trials for smoking cessation report only a 30-35% long-term success rate with motivated patients, drug intervention, and physician support. This has lead to the study of using drugs or supplements to reduce the risk of lung cancer in current or former smokers.
To learn more about how to quit smoking, please visit our Smoking and Tobacco health topic.
The information in this article is based on "LUNG CANCER: Battling the Number 1 Cancer Killer," presented on October 7, 2003 at the University of Cincinnati Mini Medical College, and was adapted for use on NetWellness with permission, 2004.
For more information:
Go to the Lung Cancer
health topic, where you can:
- Read articles on this topic
- Browse the previously asked questions
Last Reviewed: Dec 06, 2006