Lung cancer is one of the few types of cancer that has a number of known and proven risk factors.
- Smoking - About one in ten smokers develop lung cancer but studies show that exposure to smoke causes up to nine out of 10 cases of lung cancer in men and about seven out of ten cases in women. Breathing in someone else’s tobacco smoke (passive or secondhand smoking) can cause lung cancer.
- Exposure to asbestos - People who are exposed to asbestos have a greater risk of getting cancer. Some people are exposed to asbestos at work or during home renovations.
- Exposure to other elements - Contact with the processing of steel, nickel, chrome and coal gas may also be a risk factor. Exposure to radiation and other air pollution, such as diesel fumes, also increases the risk of lung cancer.
This information was last reviewed in December 2012
This information has been reviewed by: Prof David Ball, Oncologist & Chair Lung Cancer Service, Peter MacCallum Cancer Centre VIC; Jocelyn McLean RN, MN (Res), Case Manager for Thoracic Surgery, Sydney Local Health District, Eastern Zone NSW; Annie Angle, Oncology Nurse, Cancer Council Helpline Victoria; Thea Holmes, Consumer. Content produced in collaboration with The Australian Lung Foundation. We thank the health professionals who reviewed this booklet on behalf of the Foundation and Glenda Colburn, Program Development Manager, National Lung Cancer Program.View our editoral policy