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UCLA's Jonsson Comprehensive Cancer Center

Lung cancer is the most common cause of cancer-related death in both men and women. It kills twice as many Los Angeles County residents every year than any other cancer alone, and it accounts for 23 percent of all cancer-related deaths in the county. About 85 percent of all lung cancer is caused by smoking cigarettes. Lung cancer incidence in California dropped 21 percent in California from 1988 to 2003, the decrease attributed to the success of the tobacco control initiatives. About 3,865 Los Angeles County residents will be diagnosed with lung cancer in 2007. Of those, 3,130 will die.

Risk Factors
  • Cigarette smoking.
  • Exposure to secondhand smoke.
  • Occupational or environmental exposure to radon and asbestos and certain metals such as chromium, cadmium and arsenic.

Early Detection
To date, efforts at early detection have not yet reduced lung cancer mortality rates. Newer tests, such as low-dose spiral computed tomography scans and molecular markers in sputum, have produced promising results in detecting lung cancers at earlier, more operable stages when survival rates are better. But lung biopsy and surgery carry with them considerable risk and experts are continually weighing the risks and benefits of lung cancer screening.

Prevention
The best way to prevent lung cancer is not to smoke. If you smoke, quit, and avoid breathing second-hand smoke. The American Cancer Society also recommends a diet rich in fruits and vegetables to help prevent lung cancer.

Sources: American Cancer Society, California Cancer Registry

Last updated: 7/10/2008 10:53:55 AM