At Orlando Health, we believe our communities should be empowered with information, including the risks of developing lung cancer and the steps to proactively prevent it. If you are at risk for lung cancer or have questions on how to prevent it, our multidisciplinary team of lung specialists is here to answer your questions and help give you power over your health.

Screening & Early Detection

Lung cancer is the leading cause of death from cancer in both men and women in the United States. At least 8.6 million Americans are at high risk for developing lung cancer and should be screened annually, according to the American Lung Association.

Studies have shown that a low-dose CT scan is the only lung cancer screening tool that reduces your risk of dying from lung cancer. That’s because symptoms of lung cancer usually don't appear until the disease is already at an advanced stage. Even when lung cancer does cause symptoms, many people may mistake them for other problems, such as an infection or the long-term effects from smoking. This may delay the diagnosis.

A low-dose CT scan shows changes in your lungs, which will prompt your doctor to order a test to determine if you have lung cancer. Your actual diagnosis of lung cancer is made by looking at your lung cells in a lab. The cells can be taken from lung secretions (mucus you cough up), fluid removed from the area around your lung (thoracentesis), or from a suspicious area using a needle or surgery (biopsy). If you need a lung cancer test, your doctor will decide which test is appropriate for you.

Learn what to expect during a lung cancer screening and helpful tips for setting up an appointment on our Lung Cancer Screening Frequently Asked Questions page.

Risk Factors

Lowering Your Risk for Lung Cancer

There is no way to completely prevent cancer, but there are things you can do to lower your risk. The best way to reduce your risk of lung cancer is not to smoke and to avoid breathing in other people’s smoke.

If you smoke, make it your top priority to quit. It’s hard to do, and it often takes several tries before you kick the habit for good. But it is never too late to stop smoking, and the sooner you stop, the better. Cutting back on the number of cigarettes you smoke can help, but that is not as good as quitting completely.

There are many ways to stop smoking, including counseling, nicotine replacement and medications. Even if you don’t succeed at first, keep trying! For help to stop smoking, we offer free smoking cessation classes. Click here for more information and the class schedule.

If you are a previous or current smoker, there are some things you can do that may decrease your risk of getting lung cancer, but none have been proven. These include:

  • Eat plenty of fruit.
  • Get regular exercise.
  • Take aspirin or celecoxib (brand name Celebrex) regularly.
  • Use inhaled corticosteroids (for emphysema and asthma) regularly.

If you live or work with people who smoke, encourage them to quit and ask them not to smoke around you. Secondhand smoke can raise your risk of developing lung cancer.

In addition to avoiding smoke in your lungs, there are some healthy habits you can adopt to help lower your risk of lung cancer. Among them:

  • Avoid beta-carotene supplements. Studies show that they can make lung cancer more likely in people who smoke.
  • Check your home for radon. Most hardware stores carry an inexpensive and easy-to-use kit that accurately measures radon levels.
  • If you work with cancer-causing chemicals, follow all the safety rules to protect yourself.
  • Exercise and eat a diet rich in fruits and vegetables. These healthy habits will lower your risk of several forms of cancer, as well as heart disease and diabetes.

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