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Risk Factors & Prevention

In Kentucky, lung cancer claims more lives each year than the next eight most common cancers combined.

The good news? Lung cancer is also highly preventable, and at CHI Saint Joseph Health, we offer all the education and tools you need to take charge of your health.

If you think you may be at risk, your best protection is early detection. CHI Saint Joseph Health offers low-dose CT screenings at locations close to home. The test is simple, painless and most importantly, could save your life. 

Call 859.313.4673 to learn more or speak with your primary care provider to schedule your screening.

Smoking: Your #1 Lung Cancer Risk Factor 

Smoking is by far and away the number one cause of lung cancer, responsible for about 90 percent of all lung cancer deaths. That hits especially close to home, since roughly 29 percent of Kentuckians are smokers, compared to 21 percent nationally.

Other concerning stats:

  • Men who smoke are 23 times more likely to develop lung cancer than a non-smoker.
  • Women who smoke are 13 times more likely to develop lung cancer.
  • Smokers are also two to four times more likely to develop coronary heart disease and stroke.

The earlier you start smoking, and the more you smoke each day, the greater your risk of developing lung cancer. If that’s not enough, secondhand smoke can also contribute to this devastating disease. Regularly breathing in smoke from others is thought to cause more than 7,000 deaths from lung cancer each year. Children of smokers have a significantly higher rate of asthma and respiratory infections than do children of nonsmokers.

Get Personalized Support to Quit for Good

At CHI Saint Joseph Health, we know that quitting smoking is not easy, especially if you’re acting alone. That’s why we offer FREE smoking cessation classes to provide the support you need to free yourself once and for all.

Other Risk Factors

Lung cancer can also occur in people who have never smoked. Other less common risk factors include:

  • Exposure to radon: Radon is a colorless, odorless gas that results from the breakdown of uranium in soil and rocks, and is the leading cause of non-smoker lung cancer deaths. Outdoors there is little radon so it’s not likely to be dangerous. But homes and other buildings can have high indoor radon levels, especially in basements. You can reduce your exposure by having your home tested and treated, if needed.
  • Exposure to asbestos and other cancer-causing chemicals: People who work with asbestos (such as in mines, mills, textile plants, places where insulation is used, and shipyards) are several times more likely to die of lung cancer. In recent years, government regulations have greatly reduced the use of asbestos in commercial and industrial products, though minimizing exposure is still important.
  • Family history: Brothers, sisters and children of people who have had lung cancer may have a slightly higher risk of lung cancer, especially if the relative was diagnosed at a younger age. It’s not clear how much of this risk is due to shared genes or from shared household exposures (such as tobacco smoke or radon). If you have any questions or concerns, we offer complimentary genetic cancer counseling to help you understand your risk.


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