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Lung cancer

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From MayoClinic.com


The best known way to prevent lung cancer is not to smoke. If you already smoke, quitting now can reduce your risk — even if you've smoked for years.

These measures also can help prevent lung cancer:

  • Avoid secondhand smoke. Breathing the smoke of others can be just as damaging as smoking is.

  • Test for radon. Have the radon levels in your home checked, especially if you live in an area where radon is known to be a problem.

  • Avoid carcinogens. Take precautions to protect yourself from exposure to toxic chemicals such as vinyl chloride, nickel chromates and coal products. Your risk of lung damage from these carcinogens increases if you also smoke.

  • Eat a healthy diet. A number of studies have documented the relationship between food and cancer. In most cases, a diet high in fruits and vegetables appears to offer protection against the disease. For that reason, the American Cancer Society recommends consuming five or six servings of fresh fruits and vegetables every day. In the case of lung cancer, certain foods seem to be especially protective. For example, a large study in China, a country where smoking rates are high, found that certain chemicals in cruciferous vegetables such as broccoli, cabbage and bok choy can lower the risk of lung cancer up to 36 percent. Researchers are quick to point out, however, that no vegetable can protect you from cancer if you continue to smoke. Other chemicals called flavonoids, which are found in all fruits and vegetables, also appear to help protect against lung cancer. Apples, berries and onions are richest in flavonoids.


One of the best things you can to do to care for yourself if you have lung cancer is also one of the most obvious — don't smoke. It's best to also avoid being around people who are smoking. Although it may be too late to prevent developing lung cancer, this will help optimize your lung function while you are being treated and improve your tolerance to treatment that may have some effects on your lungs.

Regular exercise, such as walking, exercise bicycling or swimming, will help you to maintain your general strength and stamina. Experts recommend at least 30 minutes of exercise on most days.

In addition, eating well and managing stress are both ways to promote your overall health and cope with any form of cancer. Eating well during cancer treatment can help you maintain your stamina and better cope with the side effects of chemotherapy or radiation. Good nutrition may also help you prevent infections and remain more active.

  • Unfortunately, both cancer itself and some cancer treatments can affect your appetite. At times you simply may not feel like eating, or you may have nausea and vomiting as a result of chemotherapy. In that case, a registered dietitian can be especially helpful with food planning.

Coping skills

A diagnosis of cancer can be extremely challenging. It's important to remember that no matter what your concerns or prognosis, you're not alone. Here are some strategies and resources that may make dealing with cancer easier:

  • Know what to expect. Find out everything you can about your cancer — the type, the stage, your treatment options and their side effects. The more you know, the more active you can be in your own care. In addition to talking with your doctor, look for information in your local library and on the Internet.

  • Be proactive. Although you may feel tired and discouraged, don't let others — including your family or your doctor — make important decisions for you. Take an active role in your treatment.

  • Maintain a strong support system. Having a support system can help you cope with any issues, pain and anxieties that might occur. Although friends and family can be your best allies, they sometimes may have trouble dealing with your illness. If so, the concern and understanding of a formal support group or others coping with cancer can be especially helpful. Although support groups aren't for everyone, they can be a good source for practical information. You may also find you develop deep and lasting bonds with people who are going through the same things you are.

  • Set reasonable goals. Having goals helps you feel in control and can give you a sense of purpose. But don't choose goals you can't possibly reach. You may not be able to work a 40-hour week, for example, but you may be able to work at least halftime. In fact, many people find that continuing to work can be helpful.

  • Take time for yourself. Eating well, relaxing and getting enough rest can help combat the stress and fatigue of cancer. Also, plan ahead for the downtimes when you may need to rest more or limit what you do.

  • Stay active. A diagnosis of cancer doesn't mean you have to stop doing the things you enjoy or normally do. For the most part, if you feel well enough to do something, go ahead and do it. It's important to stay involved as much as you can.

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