The Link Between Lung Cancer & Smoking: What You Need To Know

According to the World Health Organisation (WHO), lung cancer is the leading cause of cancer death worldwide1.

Typically taking years to fully develop, lung cancer occurs when abnormal cells grow uncontrollably and disrupt the normal functioning of the lungs. This results in symptoms such as a persistent cough that won’t go away, shortness of breath, fatigue, and even recurrent infections such as bronchitis and pneumonia. Knowing whether or not you are at a high risk of getting lung cancer is crucial as it can determine whether or not you are eligible for lung cancer screening tests in Singapore.

For instance, having close family members who were diagnosed with lung cancer increases your chance of developing lung cancer by as much as 50%2. While certain risk factors such as family history are unavoidable, by far the number one modifiable risk factor for lung cancer is smoking.

The Link Between Lung Cancer And Smoking What You Need To Know

The link between lung cancer and smoking

Tobacco smoke contributes to roughly 80-90% of all lung cancer cases, making it the leading risk factor for lung cancer. In fact, people who smoke are 15 to 30 times more likely to develop lung cancer than those who do not3.

Research suggests that smoking causes lung cancer by creating cell mutations. Known for containing thousands of toxic chemicals, smoking cigarettes is associated with increasing the risk of cancer in the lungs and the mouth, liver, pancreas, colon, and kidney. In essence, the more smoke someone inhales, the more mutations he or she will develop and the greater the chance of them developing lung cancer. Smoking increases your risk of both types of lung cancer, and greatly increases your chance of getting small cell lung cancer (SCLC) – the more aggressive type of lung cancer. However, the number of never-smokers being diagnosed with lung cancer is also increasing. This is because secondhand smoke exposure and substances such as radon, diesel exhaust and asbestos can also increase the risk of cancer. What should you do next?

If you are a smoker, your chances of developing cancer are much higher than someone who has never smoked. Thankfully, there are some things you can do to reduce your risk of lung cancer, such as:

· Quitting smoking

· Avoiding secondhand smoke

· Avoiding carcinogens and other toxic substances at work or at home.

A recent study from the Framingham Heart Study suggests that a smoker’s risk of lung cancer drops substantially (39%) within 5 years of quitting4. If you are at high risk of developing lung cancer, you should also consider getting an annual lung cancer screening with a lung cancer specialist in Singapore. This will improve the chances of successful lung cancer treatment and a higher survival rate.

Your doctor may recommend annual lung cancer screening if:

· You are 50 to 80 years old and have a smoking history of at least 20 pack-years, or

· You are currently a heavy smoker or former smoker who quit within the last 15 years.

Lung cancer screening is recommended even if you are generally in good health. This is because lung cancer symptoms do not always show severe signs. With early diagnosis and detection, achieving full recovery is possible. Conclusion Quitting smoking greatly reduces the risks for health problems not just for you but the ones you love. Our body has a powerful ability to heal and undo a lot of the damage caused by smoking, and the sooner you quit, the faster you will reduce your risk of lung cancer and many other conditions related to smoking.

ICS is a cancer treatment centre with a professional team of lung cancer specialists, including surgeons, oncologists, and nurses to provide you with excellent care. We provide cancer diagnosis and treatment in Singapore that are aligned to your best interests at heart and backed by the most recent medical research so that you can have peace of mind. Contact us today if you are concerned about your symptoms and need assistance with your treatment.


1. Cancer. (2021). Retrieved 22 September 2021, from

2. Kanwal, M., Ding, X. J., & Cao, Y. (2017). Familial risk for lung cancer. Oncology letters, 13(2), 535–542.

3. What Are the Risk Factors for Lung Cancer? | CDC. (2020). Retrieved 22 September 2021, from

4. Tindle HA, Duncan MS, Greevy RA, et al. Lifetime smoking history and risk of lung cancer: results from the Framingham Heart Study. JNCI J Natl Cancer Inst. 2018;110(11):djy041. doi: 10.1093/jnci/djy041.