Lung Cancer Prevention (PDQ®): Prevention - Patient Information [NCI]
This information is produced and provided by the National Cancer Institute (NCI). The information in this topic may have changed since it was written. For the most current information, contact the National Cancer Institute via the Internet web site at http://cancer.gov or call 1-800-4-CANCER
Lung Cancer Prevention
Overview of Prevention
Doctors cannot always explain why one person gets cancer and another does not. 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
The purposes of this summary on lung cancer prevention are to:
- Give information on lung cancer and how often it occurs.
- 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.
Lung 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 can be changed, but 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, as well as antidepressantdrugs, may be helpful to people trying to quit smoking. Never smoking lowers the risk of dying from lung cancer.
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 people who have never smoked, 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 workplace.
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 pollution.
BETA CAROTENE: Studies show that heavy smokers who avoid taking beta carotenesupplements 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.
Get More Information From NCI
For more information, U.S. residents may call the National Cancer Institute's (NCI's) Cancer Information Service toll-free at 1-800-4-CANCER (1-800-422-6237) Monday through Friday from 9:00 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. A trained Cancer Information Specialist is available to answer your questions.
The NCI's LiveHelp® online chat service provides Internet users with the ability to chat online with an Information Specialist. The service is available from 9:00 a.m. to 11:00 p.m. Eastern time, Monday through Friday. Information Specialists can help Internet users find information on NCI Web sites and answer questions about cancer.
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For more information from the NCI, please write to this address:
|NCI Public Inquiries Office|
|6116 Executive Boulevard, MSC8322|
|Bethesda, MD 20892-8322|
SEARCH THE NCI WEB SITE
The NCI Web site provides online access to information on cancer, clinical trials, and other Web sites and organizations that offer support and resources for cancer patients and their families. For a quick search, use the search box in the upper right corner of each Web page. The results for a wide range of search terms will include a list of "Best Bets," editorially chosen Web pages that are most closely related to the search term entered.
There are also many other places to get materials and information about cancer treatment and services. Hospitals in your area may have information about local and regional agencies that have information on finances, getting to and from treatment, receiving care at home, and dealing with problems related to cancer treatment.
The NCI has booklets and other materials for patients, health professionals, and the public. These publications discuss types of cancer, methods of cancer treatment, coping with cancer, and clinical trials. Some publications provide information on tests for cancer, cancer causes and prevention, cancer statistics, and NCI research activities. NCI materials on these and other topics may be ordered online or printed directly from the NCI Publications Locator. These materials can also be ordered by telephone from the Cancer Information Service toll-free at 1-800-4-CANCER (1-800-422-6237).
Changes to This Summary (02 / 16 / 2006)
The PDQcancer information summaries are reviewed regularly and updated as new information becomes available. This section describes the latest changes made to this summary as of the date above.
Editorial changes were made to this summary.
Questions or Comments About This Summary
If you have questions or comments about this summary, please send them to Cancer.gov through the Web site's Contact Form. We can respond only to email messages written in English.
PDQ IS A COMPREHENSIVE CANCER DATABASE AVAILABLE ON NCI'S WEB SITE.
PDQ is the National Cancer Institute's (NCI's) comprehensive cancer information database. Most of the information contained in PDQ is available online at NCI's Web site. PDQ is provided as a service of the NCI. The NCI is part of the National Institutes of Health, the federal government's focal point for biomedical research.
PDQ CONTAINS CANCER INFORMATION SUMMARIES.
The PDQ database contains summaries of the latest published information on cancer prevention, detection, genetics, treatment, supportive care, and complementary and alternative medicine. Most summaries are available in two versions. The health professional versions provide detailed information written in technical language. The patient versions are written in easy-to-understand, nontechnical language. Both versions provide current and accurate cancer information.
THE PDQ CANCER INFORMATION SUMMARIES ARE DEVELOPED BY CANCER EXPERTS AND REVIEWED REGULARLY.
Editorial Boards made up of experts in oncology and related specialties are responsible for writing and maintaining the cancer information summaries. The summaries are reviewed regularly and changes are made as new information becomes available. The date on each summary ("Date Last Modified") indicates the time of the most recent change.
PDQ ALSO CONTAINS INFORMATION ON CLINICAL TRIALS.
A clinical trial is a study to answer a scientific question, such as whether a certain drug or nutrient can prevent cancer. Trials are based on past studies and what has been learned in the laboratory. Each trial answers certain scientific questions in order to find new and better ways to help cancer patients and those who are at risk for cancer. During prevention clinical trials, information is collected about the effects of a new prevention method and how well it works. If a clinical trial shows that a new method is better than one currently being used, the new method may become "standard." People who are at high risk for a certain type of cancer may want to think about taking part in a clinical trial.
Listings of clinical trials are included in PDQ and are available online at NCI's Web site. Descriptions of the trials are available in health professional and patient versions. Many cancer doctors who take part in clinical trials are also listed in PDQ. For more information, call the Cancer Information Service 1-800-4-CANCER (1-800-422-6237).
Date Last Modified: 2006-02-16
If you want to know more about cancer and how it is treated, or if you wish to know about clinical trials for your type of cancer, you can call the NCI's Cancer Information Service at 1-800-422-6237, toll free. A trained information specialist can talk with you and answer your questions.