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Lung Cancer Causes

Physician talking with a patientThe causes of lung cancer are generally linked to defective genes that result in the abnormal and uncontrolled growth of lung cells. While there are inherited dispositions that can make an individual more susceptible to developing lung cancer, they are unlikely to be the sole cause. More often, factors in the environment can damage the growth-regulating DNA in lung cells and eventually result in the development of lung cancer.

The single largest risk factor leading to lung cancer is smoking, with the vast majority of lung cancer cases involving individuals who smoke cigarettes. However, even for non-smokers, there are other environmental influences that increase the risk of developing lung cancer. These causes include exposure to:

  • Secondhand smoke
  • Asbestos
  • Radon gas
  • Diesel exhaust
  • Air pollution
  • Other chemicals

In addition to these causes, lung cancer is more likely to develop in those who have chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) and those who have previously had cancer in the lungs or other areas of the body. The most common forms of lung cancer, including non-small cell cancers like squamous cell carcinoma and adenocarcinoma, are typically metastatic. This means that the cancer is likely to spread to other regions in the body and can be life threatening. Therefore, getting treatment for lung cancer as early as possible is important.

At Tampa General Hospital, our comprehensive cancer institute includes a multi-specialty team of oncologists and other cancer specialists that is committed to the care and treatment of patients with lung or other cancers. TGH utilizes state-of-the-art technologies to aid in our treatment strategies and improve patient outcomes. For a physician referral, please use our Physician Finder tool or call (813) 844-2200.