Most lung cancer starts in the lining of the bronchi, but it can also start in other parts of the lung. At first, there may be areas of precancerous changes that don't cause symptoms and are not visible on an X-ray. Eventually, these precancerous areas can go on to become true cancer. At some point, lung cancer cells can break away and spread to other parts of the body in a process called metastasis.
Lung cancer is often life threatening because it commonly spreads throughout the body before it is found.
Lung Cancer: Prevention
You can start making lifestyle changes to reduce your risk of getting lung cancer. Although some people who get lung cancer do not have any known risk factors, the best way to prevent lung cancer is not to smoke. Other lifestyle changes:
- Avoid breathing in other people's smoke.
- Lower your exposure to radon, another cause of lung cancer. Have your home tested and treated, if needed.
- Protect yourself from cancer-causing chemicals at work and elsewhere. If you work in a place where these exposures are common, they should be kept as low as possible.
- Eat a diet rich in fruits and vegetables.
Lung Cancer: Early Detection
Although there is not currently a universally accepted screening test for lung cancer, researchers are studying different methods for effective early detection. If you're concerned about your risk of lung cancer, talk to your Dignity Health doctor to determine strategies to reduce your risk and decide whether cancer screening through the Mercy Lung Evaluation Clinic is appropriate for you.