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Focus on Lung Cancer Awareness

Lung cancer is the leading cause of cancer death in both men and women in Delaware and the U.S.

Lung cancer is the most frequently diagnosed cancer in Delaware[1]— and the leading cause of cancer death in both men and women in Delaware and the U.S.[2]  Nationally, each year, an average of 411 people per day die from lung cancer.[3] 

November is Lung Cancer Awareness Month. Did you know that there are steps you can take to reduce your risk of lung cancer? Don’t smoke or quit smoking, avoid secondhand smoke, and get your home tested for radon. Learn more.

Risk Factors. [1]

The following are lifestyle risk factors, which a person can modify to reduce his or her risk of getting lung cancer:

  • The use of tobacco products: An estimated 85 to 90 percent of all lung cancer cases are caused by tobacco use, according to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.
  • Exposure to secondhand smoke: When a person breathes in secondhand smoke, it is like he or she is smoking.
  • Other suspected lifestyle risk factors include a diet low in fruits and vegetables, a diet high in cholesterol, heavy alcohol use, and smoking marijuana.

The following are environmental and medically related causes of lung cancer:

  • Occupational exposures: Asbestos, mustard gas, radioactive ores, metals (chromium, cadmium, and arsenic), certain organic chemicals, and paint
  • Environmental exposures: Radon gas released from soil or building materials, asbestos (among smokers), air pollution, and high levels of arsenic in drinking water
  • Radiation therapy to the chest (especially for people who smoke)

The following are nonmodifiable risk factors (these cannot be changed):

  • Family history of lung cancer
  • Personal history of tuberculosis

To protect against lung cancer, individuals should avoid tobacco and secondhand smoke, consume a diet rich in fruits and vegetables, engage in recommended levels of physical activity, and maintain a healthy weight.

Early Detection

In January 2013, lung cancer screening guidelines recommending that health care providers discuss screening options with patients who meet certain high-risk criteria for developing the disease were released. High-risk patients are defined as those who:

  • Are ages 55–74 and in fairly good health
  • Have a smoking history equivalent to a pack a day for 30 years or longer
  • Currently smoke or have quit within the past 15 years

Talk to your health care provider about whether you should get screened for lung cancer. Learn more.

Don’t give up on giving up.

Smoking harms nearly every organ of the body and damages your overall health. Regardless of age, smokers can greatly reduce their risk of disease, including lung cancer, by quitting. If you or someone you love is a smoker, we can help. We understand that everyone is different and requires different resources.  Learn more about three FREE ways you can get the help that’s right for you.  


[1] Delaware Department of Health and Social Services, Division of Public Health, Cancer Incidence and Mortality, 2009-2013, http://www.dhss.delaware.gov/dhss/dph/dpc/files/im09-13_july2017.pdf

[2] Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, https://www.cdc.gov/cancer/lung/index.htm

[3] Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, https://www.cdc.gov/cancer/lung/statistics/

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