Medical Specialties: Oncology

Clinical Definition

Radon is a colorless, radioactive gas that occurs from the breakdown of uranium. It is classified as a carcinogen and can be found in rocks, soil and ground water.  

In Our Own Words

Radon is a colorless, odorless and tasteless gas that naturally occurs as the radioactive element uranium decays in rocks and soil. Radon exposure can lead to lung damage because radioactive particles get stuck in the lining of the lungs, and cellular damage may progress into lung cancer.


Although smoking is the leading cause of lung cancer (accounting for 87 percent of cases), radon exposure is the most common cause of lung cancer among non-smokers with more than 20,000 deaths per year. One out of every 15 homes may have elevated levels of radon; tests are available for checking your home or office and methods of water supply.

Relevant Conditions
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  • Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. “Radon in the home.” http://www.cdc.gov. Accessed July 2013.
  • Environmental Protection Agency. “Radon: Health Risks.” http://www.epa.gov/radon/healthrisks.html. Accessed July 2013.
  • Cleveland Clinic. “Lung Cancer - Cancer Institute Overview.” http://my.clevelandclinic.org. Accessed July 2013.
  • American Cancer Society. “Radon.” http://www.cancer.org. Accessed July 2013.
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