The incidence of lung cancer continues to grow in Ireland and in 2011 the National Cancer Registry announced that lung cancer has become the illness most likely to cause death in women in Ireland.

Smoking is the main cause of lung cancer.

Not smoking or quitting smoking is the most important thing you can do to avoid getting lung cancer.


Most lung cancers (90 to 95%) are due to smoking. The risk of getting lung cancer is directly linked to the number of cigarettes you smoke every day and the years you spend smoking.


If you smoke cigars or pipes, you have a lower risk than cigarette smokers, but you are still at a higher risk than non-smokers.

Low tar cigarettes

If you smoke low tar cigarettes, you do not have a lower risk, as these smokers tend to inhale quite deeply.


Like most types of cancer, lung cancer is more common in older people. About 80% (8 in 10) of lung cancers are diagnosed in people over 60. Lung cancer rarely affects people under 40.


It is believed that cannabis smoking can do the same damage to the lungs as cigarette smoking.

Passive smoking

This also increases your risk of developing lung cancer, although not as much as a smoker.

Asbestos exposure

Being exposed to asbestos over a long time can cause mesothelioma. This is a type of lung cancer. Other chemicals are thought to put workers at a higher risk.


Radon is a gas found normally in the soil. Being exposed to high levels of radon has been linked to lung cancer.