Can small cell lung cancer be prevented?
Not all cases of lung cancer can be prevented, but there are some ways you can reduce your risk of getting lung cancer.
The best way to reduce your risk of small cell lung cancer (and other types of lung cancer) is not to smoke and to avoid breathing in other people's smoke. If you would like help quitting smoking, see our document Guide to Quitting Smoking or call the American Cancer Society at 1-800-227-2345.
Radon is an important cause of lung cancer. You can reduce your exposure to radon by having your home tested and treated, if needed. For more information, see our document, Radon.
It is also helpful to avoid being exposed to known cancer-causing chemicals, in the workplace and elsewhere (see "What are the risk factors for small cell lung cancer?"). People working where these exposures are common should try to keep exposure to a minimum when possible.
A healthy diet with lots of fruits and vegetables may also help reduce your risk of lung cancer. Some evidence suggests that a diet high in fruits and vegetables may help protect against lung cancer in both smokers and non-smokers. But any positive effect of fruits and vegetables on lung cancer risk would be much less than the increased risk from smoking.
Attempts to reduce the risk of lung cancer in current or former smokers by giving them high doses of vitamins or vitamin-like drugs have not been successful so far. In fact, some studies have found that beta-carotene, a nutrient related to vitamin A, appears to increase the rate of lung cancer in these people.
Some people who get lung cancer do not have any apparent risk factors. Although we know how to prevent most lung cancers, at this time we don't know how to prevent all of them.
Last Medical Review: 03/05/2012
Last Revised: 01/17/2013