• Cancer

    Consumer Health: Lung cancer, smoking and why it’s always a good time to quit

a young white woman in a t-shirt holding a cigarette and breaking it in half

World Lung Cancer Day will be observed on Sunday, Aug. 1, which makes this a good time to learn more about the connection between lung cancer and smoking, and why it's always a good time to quit.

Lung cancer is the leading cause of cancer deaths in the U.S., according to the American Cancer Society. Lung cancer claims more lives each year than colon, breast and prostate cancers combined. Although the disease can occur in people who have never smoked, people who smoke or have smoked have the greatest risk of lung cancer.

Secondhand smoke and thirdhand smoke also cause and contribute to several serious health problems for people exposed to the smoke that a smoker exhales and the residual nicotine and other chemicals left on indoor surfaces by tobacco smoking. Family members, especially children, are most at risk from the effects of secondhand and thirdhand smoke.

By the time lung cancer signs and symptoms develop, the cancer is usually advanced. Studies show lung cancer screening reduces the risk of dying of lung cancer. Lung cancer screening is used to detect the presence of lung cancer in otherwise healthy people with a high risk of lung cancer. Lung cancer screening seeks to detect lung cancer at an early stage — when it's more likely to be cured.

Quitting smoking is one of the best things that you can do for your health. And it's never too late to quit smoking, even after a cancer diagnosis.

Connect with others living with lung cancer in the Lung Cancer support group on Mayo Clinic Connect, an online patient community moderated by Mayo Clinic.

Related Articles