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Doctor speaking with former smoker

Non-small cell lung cancer is the most common type of lung cancer, accounting for 90 percent of all diagnoses for this malignancy. Multiple studies have confirmed that smoking is by far the leading cause, as close to 90 percent of all lung cancers stem from tobacco use. However, not all smokers have the same risk of developing non-small cell lung cancer. Gender has an impact on the risk of lung cancer in smokers – men who smoke are 23 times more likely to develop this malignancy, while women who smoke are 13 times more likely. Additionally, a person’s risk of developing non-small cell lung cancer increases the longer they smoke and the more packs a day they smoke.

Secondhand smoke and non-small cell lung cancer

In addition to smoking, exposure to secondhand smoke also leads to a greater risk of developing lung cancer. Nonsmokers who are exposed to secondhand smoke at home or at work have a 20 to 30 percent greater chance of developing lung cancer.

Other causes of non-small cell lung cancer

Tobacco smoke isn’t the only carcinogen that is believed to cause non-small cell lung cancer. Additional causes of this malignancy include exposure to:

  • Diesel exhaust
  • Asbestos
  • Silica
  • Radon

Smoking or coming into contact with other carcinogens does not necessarily mean a person will develop lung cancer. Likewise, some people develop lung cancer without ever having smoked a cigarette in their life. If you are concerned about your lung cancer risk factors, or if you are showing symptoms of this malignancy, schedule an appointment with a physician who can address your concerns and provide the appropriate treatment.

Medically reviewed by Dr. Andreas Saltos.

Moffitt Cancer Center offers comprehensive diagnostics, treatment and supportive care services for patients with non-small cell lung cancer. For more information, call 1-888-663-3488 or complete a new patient registration form online. We do not require referrals.