Preventing Small Cell Lung Cancer

Doctors at NYU Langone’s Perlmutter Cancer Center recommend the following steps to reduce your risk of small cell lung cancer.

Avoid Smoking and Secondhand Smoke

Cigarette smoking is the leading cause of small cell lung cancer. Cigar and pipe smoking also increase risk. Our doctors strongly urge people who smoke to quit. Even if you are a long-term smoker, it’s not too late to stop. Quitting can reverse damage to the lungs before cancer develops. Perlmutter Cancer Center offers support through our Tobacco Cessation Program.

VIDEO: Information about NYU Langone’s tobacco cessation program.

Even if you don’t smoke, regular exposure to smoke from cigarettes, cigars, or pipes can increase the risk of small cell lung cancer. Doctors recommend avoiding smoke from these sources.

Limit Exposure to Cancer-Causing Chemicals

Regular exposure to certain chemicals, which may be inhaled through the air, increases the risk of developing small cell lung cancer.

Radon is a radioactive gas that’s released into the air when uranium, which is found in soil and rocks, breaks down. Some homes built on soil containing uranium have high levels of radon. Testing your home for the gas and making repairs to decrease levels can help reduce your risk of cancer.

Asbestos is a mineral that has been used as a fire retardant and in building materials for insulation. Although the use of asbestos-containing materials has greatly declined, people can still be exposed to the mineral during commercial building or home renovation projects.

If you’re concerned about asbestos in your home, you can test for it. If you find it, you can have it removed safely. Government regulations protect people from asbestos in the workplace.

If your workplace exposes you to other cancer-causing chemicals, such as coal tar or soot, you may have an increased risk of developing small cell lung cancer. Laws are in place to help limit your exposure.