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Why is the impact of Lung Cancer important to Albertans?

Lung cancer is the 3rd most common cancer in Alberta.1
About 1,950 adults were diagnosed in 2012.2

  • Lung cancer is the leading cause of cancer death in Alberta. In 2012, about 1,428 people died from lung cancer. That’s more than the number of people who died from breast, prostate, and colorectal cancers combined.
  • Slightly more women than men were diagnosed with lung cancer in 2012.
  • Between 1992 and 2012, the rate of new cases among men went down about 1.5% per year. This reflects the fall in smoking rates among men that started years earlier.
  • The rate of new cases in women went up almost 2% a year between 1992 and 2008 and stayed about the same between 2008 and 2012. This is because the smoking rate among women was slower to fall compared to men.
  • The risk of lung cancer rises quickly after age 45 for men and women. After the age of 65, the rate for women is lower than for men and falls after age 75. The rate for men falls after age 80.

What can I do?

Experts in Alberta agree that we can prevent about 85 out of 100 cases of lung cancer.2 Here’s how:

Tobacco smoking is linked to about 76% of new cancer cases.

Tobacco has cancer-causing toxins (called carcinogens) that damage lung cells. Over time, the damaged cells can turn into cancer. You can lower your risk for lung cancer when you quit using tobacco or cut down.

Not being active enough is linked to about 21% of new cancer cases.

To prevent cancer, the World Cancer Research Fund and American Institute for Cancer Research recommend being active3 (e.g., brisk walking) for at least 30 minutes each day and limiting sedentary habits like watching television.

Being exposed to residential radon gas is linked to about 17% of new cancer cases.

Radon is a radioactive gas found naturally in the environment. It’s produced by the decaying uranium that’s normally found in soil, rocks, or water. Radon gas can be released into buildings that are built on bedrock. The World Health Organization’s International Agency for Research on Cancer has classified radon as a cause of lung cancer.4 Exposure to radon gas is the leading cause of lung cancer among non-smokers. If you smoke and are also being exposed to radon gas, your risk of lung cancer is even higher.

Health Canada recommends that homes be tested for radon. You can either buy a do-it-yourself long-term radon test kit or hire a certified radon measurement professional. If the radon level in a home is high it can be easily fixed at a reasonable price. See Health Canada’s Radon Reduction Guide5 for more details.

More information on lung cancer symptoms, diagnosis and treatment at MyHealth Alberta.

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