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How to Reduce Your Risk of Developing Lung Cancer

November 3, 2016

New cases of lung cancer in Oregon were down by 3% between 2009 and 2013. That's great news! But as one of the most preventable types of cancer, there is more work to be done.

At Compass Oncology, we're participating in Lung Cancer Awareness Month by helping raise awareness of this often preventable disease. Lung cancer is the second most common type of cancer diagnosis in both men and women. We encourage you to educate yourself and join us in spreading the word about the prevalence of lung cancer and the best ways to reduce the risks of developing it.

Four Things You Can Do to Reduce the Risk of Lung Cancer

1) Stop Smoking

This seems obvious, but it's easier said than done. The overwhelming majority of diagnosed lung cancer cases can be linked to long-term cigarette smoking. According to the Centers for Disease Control, there are some ways scientifically proven to help people stop smoking, including:

  • Participating in individual or group counseling
  • Using over-the-counter or prescription nicotine-replacement products (patches, gums, inhalers, etc.)
  • Using prescription non-nicotine medications (Zyban® or Chantix®). 

Combining counseling and medication will boost your likelihood of success.

2) Avoid Secondhand Smoke

Both the smoke from the lit end of a cigarette and the smoke exhaled by a smoker contains approximately 70 known cancer-causing materials. Approximately 7,300 nonsmokers die in the United States each year because they developed lung cancer from breathing secondhand smoke. Reduce your risks by asking people not to smoke in your home or car, or anywhere around you. Explain that smoke irritates your eyes and throat. Avoid bars, restaurants and other businesses that allow smoking. If you must be near cigarette smoke, open a window.

3) Reduce Radon Gas Exposure

After smoking, the second most common contributor to lung cancer is exposure to radon gas. According to the American Cancer Society, approximately 20,000 lung cancer deaths per year are radon-related. Radon is a naturally occurring colorless and odorless gas that forms when radioactive elements in soils and rocks break down.

The Oregon Public Health Division recommends that all homes be tested for radon gas. This online map describes the radon gas risk levels for Oregon, including the Portland area. You can order an inexpensive radon test kit here.

4) Consider Your Work Environment

Even if you're a nonsmoker, avoid secondhand smoke, and have confirmed that your home doesn't have elevated levels of radon, you could still be exposed to risks at work. If you work around cancer-causing materials or pollution, such as asbestos or diesel exhaust, it's important to take precautions. Respirators can filter out cancer-causing particles, chemicals and gases from the air you breathe. Learn about effective respiratory protection on the Occupational Safety and Health Administration website.

Spread the Word about Lung Cancer Prevention!

The American Lung Association works tirelessly year round to raise lung cancer awareness. If you're interested in helping spread the word during Lung Cancer Awareness Month or beyond, here are some ways you can get involved:

  • Participate in an inspiring Lung Force walk or run fundraiser. There are 20 opportunities to participate this month in cities across the United States and Canada and many more events scheduled throughout the year.
  • Go turquoise. In October, pink reigns supreme as it signifies Breast Cancer awareness. In November, turn your social media profiles turquoise in support of lung health. Click here to join the Turquoise Takeover!
  • Join the Lung Action Network for alerts about opportunities to contact elected officials in advance of pending legislation affecting lung-health issues.
  • Volunteer to facilitate a tobacco cessation group.

Take the time and effort to spread the word as well as reduce your personal risk and your family's risk of developing lung cancer. It's worth every bit of effort!

If you’d like to learn more about lung cancer, visit our Disease & Drug Information section

Categories: Lung Cancer