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Lung Cancer

[luhng] [kan-ser]

Woman breaking cigarette

Lung cancer is the leading cause of cancer death in the United States. Cigarette smoking is the #1 cause of lung cancer, but it also can be caused by using other forms of tobacco like pipes or cigars, breathing secondhand smoke, being exposed to asbestos or radon, and having a family history of lung cancer. Symptoms may include coughing that gets worse or doesn’t go away, chest pain, shortness of breath, wheezing, and coughing up blood. Other illnesses can cause these symptoms, too. If you have any symptoms, talk to your doctor. For help to quit smoking, call 1 (800) QUIT-NOW, text “QUIT” to 47848 from your cell phone, or visit


Key Facts

  • The most important thing you can do to lower your lung cancer risk is to quit smoking and avoid secondhand smoke.
  • In the U.S., about 7,300 people who never smoked die from lung cancer every year due to secondhand smoke.
  • Radon causes about 20,000 cases of lung cancer each year in the U.S., making it the second leading cause of lung cancer.
  • Most people don’t have symptoms (like coughing, chest pain, and shortness of breath) until their lung cancer is advanced.


Prevention Tips

  • If you smoke, quit. For help, ask your doctor, call 1 (800) QUIT-NOW, or text the word QUIT to 47848 from your mobile phone.
  • Avoid breathing in smoke from other people’s cigarettes, cigars, or pipes.
  • Get your home tested for radon.
  • Be aware that cancer survivors who had radiation therapy to the chest are at higher risk of lung cancer.
  • If you are 55 to 80 years old, AND you smoke now or quit within the past 15 years, AND you smoked a lot (1 pack a day for 30 years or 2 packs a day for 15 years), ask your doctor if lung cancer screening is right for you.

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