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Frank was a heavy smoker for decades, but decided to quit when his first grandson was born. While initially he felt healthier, several months later he noticed that he had developed a cough that would not go away. He wasn’t on a diet, but began losing weight, and then one day, he coughed up blood.

Frank immediately reached out to his doctor, who said all of these symptoms could be signs of lung cancer. He got a chest X-ray and other test. The diagnosis was confirmed: Frank had lung cancer.

Now undergoing treatment, Frank tells virtually everyone he talks to how much he regrets ever starting smoking-and begs them not to start smoking, or to quit if they already smoke.

Lung cancer — a disease in which malignant cells form in the tissues of the lung—is the leading cause of cancer death in both men and women. Some lung cancer symptoms include:

  • Coughing that gets worse or doesn’t go away
  • Chest pain that is often worse with deep breathing, coughing or laughing
  • Coughing up blood or rust-colored phlegm
  • Weight loss with no known cause

The most important way to lower your risk of lung cancer is to not start smoking, or to quit if you smoke. Tobacco smoking causes about 80% to 90% of lung cancer deaths in the United States. More research is needed to understand the long-term health risks of vaping.

Other ways to lower your risk include:

  • Avoiding secondhand smoke. Make your home and car smoke-free. Stay out of any indoor spaces where people are smoking.
  • Getting your home tested for radon. Lowering radon levels may lower the risk of lung cancer, especially among cigarette smokers. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency recommends that all homes are tested for radon. High levels of radon in homes may be reduced by taking steps to prevent radon leakage, such as sealing basements.
  • Being careful at work. Health and safety guidelines in the workplace can help workers avoid carcinogens—things that can cause cancer. Studies show that being exposed to the following substances increases the risk of lung cancer:
    • Asbestos
    • Arsenic
    • Chromium
    • Nickel
    • Beryllium
    • Cadmium
    • Tar and soot