Lung cancer is the most common cause of cancer death among both females and males in both the United States and Colorado. In Colorado, the cumulative lifetime risk of lung cancer is one in 11 for males and one in 16 for females. It is the third most commonly diagnosed cancer overall. Cigarette smoking is the most important risk factor for lung cancer, accounting for approximately 80% of lung cancer deaths in females and 90% in males. After 10 years of abstinence, smoking cessation decreases the risk of lung cancer to 30%-50% of that of continuing smokers. Five- year survival rates for lung cancer are only about 10%. Other risk factors include occupational exposure (e.g., radon, asbestos) and indoor and outdoor pollution (e.g., radon, environmental tobacco smoke). About 1% to 2% of lung cancer deaths are attributable to air pollution.
As smoking cessation and prevention are the most important areas to focus on to reduce both the incidence of and mortality from lung cancer, this is where efforts need to be made (for objectives relevant to these efforts, see chapter on Tobacco). Additionally, continued dissemination of information about the risks of radon exposure is necessary.