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A risk factor is anything that affects a person’s chance of getting a disease such as cancer. Different cancers have different risk factors. Some risk factors, like smoking, can be changed. Others, like a person’s age or family history, can’t be changed.

But having a risk factor, or even many risk factors, does not mean that you will get the disease. And some people who get the disease may have few or no known risk factors. Even if a person with lung cancer has a risk factor, it is often very hard to know how much it may have contributed to the cancer.

Several risk factors can make you more likely to develop lung cancer:

For more information about these factors and how they increase the risk of lung cancer, see the section about risk factors in Lung Cancer (Non Small Cell).

Last Medical Review: 08/18/2014
Last Revised: 02/24/2016