Lung Cancer

Lung cancer is the second most common cancer in both men and women, not including skin cancer. People who smoke have a high risk of developing lung cancer.

Lung cancer is the leading cause of cancer death, making up almost 20% of all cancer deaths. More people die of lung cancer than of colon, breast, and prostate cancers combined.

Did you know you can screen for lung cancer?

Just like there are mammograms to detect breast cancer or colonoscopies to detect colorectal cancer, there is a screening test that it quick and painless for lung cancer, called a Low Dose CT (LDCT) scan.

LDCT screenings can detect lung cancer before you have signs or symptoms.

Who should screen for lung cancer?

A LDCT scan is for individuals who are in generally good health and have no symptoms but are at high risk because of their smoking history and age.

You should talk to your primary care provider about LDCT screening if:

  • You are between 50 and 80 years old
  • You have smoked an average of one pack a day for 20 years AND
  • You are currently smoking or quit less than 15 years ago



Be it peace of mind or early detection, a LDCT only takes minutes. Should something abnormal be found in the LDCT, Riverside’s Lung Nodule Clinic streamlines access to for patients to be seen on an urgent basis for evaluation by a Riverside pulmonologist.

Risk factors

There are a variety of lung cancer causes and risk factors. Some risk factors can be controlled, for instance, by quitting smoking. And other factors can't be controlled, such as your family history. What is important is that you see your doctor on a regular basis and get early screenings, especially if you have risk factors for lung cancer.

Risk factors that may cause you to have an increased risk of developing lung cancer include:

  • Smoking. Smoking remains the greatest risk factor for lung cancer. The risk of lung cancer increases with the number of cigarettes you smoke each day and the number of years you have smoked. Quitting at any age can significantly lower your risk of developing lung cancer.
  • Exposure to secondhand smoke. Even if you don't smoke, your risk of lung cancer increases if you're exposed to being around people who smoke, otherwise known as secondhand smoke.
  • Exposure to radon gas in the home or in mining work. Radon is produced by the natural breakdown of uranium in soil, rock and water that eventually becomes part of the air you breathe. Unsafe levels of radon can accumulate in any building, including homes. Radon testing kits, which can be purchased at home improvement stores, can determine whether levels are safe. If unsafe levels are discovered, remedies are available.
  • Exposure to asbestos and other chemicals. Workplace exposure to asbestos and other substances known to cause cancer — such as arsenic, chromium and nickel — also can increase your risk of developing lung cancer, especially if you're a smoker.
  • Family history of lung cancer. People with a parent, sibling or child with lung cancer have an increased risk of the disease.
  • Certain smoking-related lung diseases. Smokers with certain lung diseases, such as emphysema, may have an increased risk of lung cancer.


Often people with lung cancer may have no symptoms when the cancer is diagnosed. These cancers usually are identified incidentally when a chest X-ray or CT scan is performed for another reason. The majority of people, however, do develop symptoms. According to the American Cancer Society, these symptoms can include:

  • Cough that doesn’t go away or gets worse
  • Breathing trouble, such as shortness of breath
  • Chest pain, that is often worse with deep breathing, coughing or laughing
  • Coughing up blood
  • A hoarse voice
  • Frequent lung infections such as pneumonia
  • Feeling very tired all the time
    Weight loss with no known cause

In many cases, these symptoms are not due to cancer but are the result of other health problems that can cause some of these symptoms. Anyone with such symptoms should see a health care provider to be diagnosed and treated as early as possible.

The earlier lung cancer is detected, the easier it is to treat.

Smoking is the leading cause of lung cancer. Want help to quit smoking?

Get FREE expert counseling, education and a personalized quit plan from a quit coach by calling 1-800-QUIT-NOW.


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