Lung cancer continues to be one of the most common causes of cancer death despite understanding the major cause of the disease: cigarette smoking. Smoking increases lung cancer risk 5- to 10-fold with a clear dose-response relationship.
Exposure to environmental tobacco smoke among nonsmokers increases lung cancer risk about 20%. Risks for marijuana and hookah use, and the new e-cigarettes, are yet to be consistently defined and will be important areas for continued research as use of these products increases. Other known environmental risk factors include exposures to radon, asbestos, diesel, and ionizing radiation.
Host factors have also been associated with lung cancer risk, including family history of lung cancer, history of chronic obstructive pulmonary disease and infections. Studies to identify genes associated with lung cancer susceptibility have consistently identified chromosomal regions on 15q25, 6p21 and 5p15 associated with lung cancer risk.
Risk prediction models for lung cancer typically include age, sex, cigarette smoking intensity and/or duration, medical history, and occupational exposures, however there is not yet a risk prediction model currently recommended for general use. As lung cancer screening becomes more widespread, a validated model will be needed to better define risk groups to inform screening guidelines.