1.2 Risk factors

1.2 Risk factors

The risk factors for developing lung cancer include:

  • lifestyle factors
    • physical inactivity (Moore et al. 2016)
  • environmental factors
    • second-hand smoke
    • occupational exposure to arsenic, polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons, cadmium, radon, asbestos, silica, iron and steel founding, nickel, beryllium, chromium VI, paint or diesel exhaust
    • air pollution
  • personal factors
    • current or former tobacco smoking
    • increasing age
    • family history of lung cancer
    • personal history of cancer (e.g. lung cancer, head and neck cancer, bladder cancer)
    • chronic lung disease, such as chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) or pulmonary fibrosis.

Variations in lung cancer outcomes exist across populations:

  • Indigenous Australians are approximately twice as likely to be diagnosed with and to die from lung cancer and have a lower five-year survival compared with non-Indigenous Australians (AIHW 2018b; NCCI 2019b).
  • Incidence and mortality increase with remoteness (NCCI 2019b).
  • Incidence and mortality rates are highest for those living in lowest socioeconomic areas (NCCI 2019b).

Additionally, 25 per cent of lung cancers are not attributable to tobacco smoking, with a large proportion of lung cancer in Asian women occurring in never-smokers (Ha et al. 2015; Sun et al. 2007). A clear risk factor is not defined.