Can small cell lung cancer be prevented?
Not all lung cancers can be prevented. But there are things you can do that might lower your risk, such as changing the risk factors that you can control.
Stay away from tobacco
The best way to reduce your risk of lung cancer is not to smoke and to avoid breathing in other people’s smoke.
If you stop smoking before a cancer develops, your damaged lung tissue gradually starts to repair itself. No matter what your age or how long you’ve smoked, quitting may lower your risk of lung cancer and help you live longer. If you would like help quitting smoking, see our 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 Radon and Cancer.
Avoid or limit exposure to cancer-causing chemicals
Avoiding exposure to known cancer-causing chemicals, in the workplace and elsewhere, might also be helpful (see Small cell lung cancer risk factors). People working where these exposures are common should try to keep exposure to a minimum when possible.
Eat a healthy diet
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.
Trying to reduce the risk of lung cancer in current or former smokers by giving them high doses of vitamins or vitamin-like drugs has not been successful so far. In fact, some studies have found that supplements of beta-carotene, a nutrient related to vitamin A, appear to increase the rate of lung cancer in these people.
Some people who get lung cancer do not have any clear 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: 02/22/2016
Last Revised: 02/26/2016