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Lung Cancer in Men

Still the leader in cancer deaths, lung cancer is also one of the most preventable cancers. Here's what men need to know to prevent lung cancer.

Why Should I Care About Lung Cancer?

If you've never smoked cigarettes, your risk of lung cancer is low. If you currently smoke, especially if you are a heavy smoker, your risk of developing lung cancer can be 30 times higher than the risk for a nonsmoker.

More than 90% of lung cancers in men are the result of smoking. That means nine out of 10 cases of the disease could be completely prevented. What else increases your risk? How long you've smoked and how heavily will determine how high your risk of developing lung cancer is.

Other risk factors include:

  • Exposure to radon gas. This colorless, odorless radioactive gas that is emitted by soil and rock can build up inside well-insulated homes.
  • Exposure to asbestos. This risk factor typically applies to workers who handle asbestos.
  • Family history of cancer. Having first-degree relatives with lung cancer increases your risk.
  • Second hand smoke: If one lives in a household with a smoker, the incidence of lung cancer is 30% higher than that of living in a household without a smoker. This translates into an incidence of 3,000 cases of lung cancer per year.

Although new treatments have improved the prognosis for people diagnosed with lung cancer, the chances of surviving the disease are still poor -- only around 15%. For reasons that aren't well understood, the odds are particularly slim for men.

According to the National Cancer Institute, more than 200,000 new cases of lung cancer are diagnosed each year, and almost 160,000 Americans die of the disease. What makes those numbers even grimmer is that there was a time when the disease was relatively uncommon. Then came the mass marketing of cigarettes -- and lung cancer deaths began to rise. Despite massive anti-smoking campaigns, however, the power of advertising, the glamorization of smoking in film, the influence of parental smoking, and the addictive quality of nicotine mean many young men continue to light up.

WebMD Medical Reference

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