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Lung Cancer

Lung cancer is a disease where cancerous cells grow and form a tumor in the lung. The lungs are a pair of large organs in the chest involved with breathing and respiration. As the tumor grows, it undermines the lung's ability to provide the bloodstream with oxygen. Most lung cancers are diagnosed at a late stage, when treatment is poor and the disease is rapidly fatal.
Lung cancer is a leading form of cancer in New Mexico and the U.S. Unlike other common types of cancer, there is no effective screening program for lung cancer and symptoms often do not appear until the disease is well advanced into the body. This makes treatment more difficult, and survival less likely compared to other cancers. The majority of lung cancers diagnosed each year are caused by long-term cigarette smoking, which is a preventable exposure; however, roughly 10% of cases occur in non-smokers, some of which are due likely to second-hand smoke. Other environmental risk factors which have been shown to increase lung cancer risk include exposure to arsenic, asbestos, diesel exhaust, and radon.
Lung cancer is diagnosed more frequently in men than in women, and more frequently in Whites than in persons of other race. Lung cancer is rarely diagnosed prior to age 50, but thereafter, rate increases strongly with age. Lung cancer is the 2nd most commonly diagnosed type of cancer in U.S. males, following prostate cancer. Lung cancer is also the 2nd most commonly diagnosed cancer in U.S. females, following breast cancer.
Smoking is the major cause of lung cancer, accounting for up to 90% of all lung cancer cases. Causes of lung cancer among non-smokers include second-hand smoke, genetic factors, air pollution, exposure to asbestos, and radon gas.
Breathing in air with high levels of radon over a long period of time is linked with lung cancer. The greater your exposure to radon, the greater your chance of developing lung cancer. The Surgeon General warns indoor radon exposure is the second leading cause of lung cancer in the United States.
Scientists have found a number of risk factors that make a person more likely to develop lung cancer:
  • Smoking.
  • Second-hand smoke.
  • Radon
  • Asbestos.
You can learn about known and probable carcinogens from Known and Probable Human Carcinogens at (external site).
The majority of lung cancers are preventable since over 90% are thought to be caused by smoking. Among non-smokers, steps to reduce risk include avoidance of second-hand smoke, as well as exposures to radon gas and asbestos.
  • pdf What You Need To Know About Lung Cancer (1.1 MB)National Cancer Institute.
  • You can also call the 1-800-QUIT NOW (1 800-784-8669) hotline to access cessation services available to New Mexicans. Services include sessions in English or Spanish, programs for adults and youth, free cessation items and a personal quit plan.
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Content updated: Thu, 4 Jun 2020 16:26:03 MDT