The importance of early detection is key to managing and treating lung cancer, particularly in non-smokers. This is especially true in the Asian population, where the mortality rates are higher than the global average.
The rise in the number of non-smokers with lung cancer, along with the higher mortality rate in Asian populations, is a reminder that clean living does not guarantee us a free pass from this disease. In light of this, it is important to understand the underlying causes, risk factors and available treatments for lung cancer in non-smokers, so that we can have a better chance of spotting and treating the disease early.
In the United States, it has been estimated that approximately 10% of individuals diagnosed with lung cancer are never- smokers. In Asia, however, this figure is significantly higher; more than 30% of those with lung cancer have never smoked and over 50% of cases occur in women who have not smoked.
A study conducted by the National Cancer Center Singapore (NCCS) in 2006 revealed that 32% of non-small-cell lung cancer (NSCLC) patients were never-smokers, which is defined as individuals who have smoked fewer than 100 cigarettes throughout their lifetime. A further investigation carried out by the NCCS in 2018 indicated an increase to 48% over a 10- year period.
The data suggests that non-smoking women who develop lung cancer tend to be younger and have better survival outcomes than those of smokers. This could be attributed to the fact that historically, men had much higher rates of smoking than women, thus skewing mortality rates. Nevertheless, it is still unclear how sex affects the chances of lung cancer among never-smokers. Further research is needed in order to gain a more comprehensive understanding on this matter.
A strong predictor of lung cancer is the epigenetic mechanisms that are the hallmarks of lung cancer progression, specifically in non-smokers. Studies find that in non-smokers, the genes that play a pivotal role in cell death, growth and metabolism all affect the chances of getting cancer.
Research has indicated that certain genetic alleles may be inherited, which can lead to an increased risk of lung cancer in people with a family history of the disease markers. However, there’s a new ideology that complements the theory of shared environmental toxins and nutritional epigenetic factors among people who live together, such as in families.
Lung screenings play a vital role in your healthcare checkup with the epidemic of NSCLC among people who have never smoked is rising, as lung cancer often presents without symptoms.
Early detection is a key factor in increasing mortality and long-term survival rates following diagnosis. The negative connotations associated with lung cancer have become more pervasive in today’s society due to people’s perception that it’s a disease that only affects smokers, which may do a disservice to public health.
When lung cancer is diagnosed early in individuals who do not smoke, leading thoracic surgeons are often able to remove the affected tissue without complications, especially when it comes to non-smoker patients with more optimally functional lungs than smoker counterparts.
It’s extremely important to treat any cancer as early as possible, especially when it’s locally confined before the disease metastasizes, potentially carrying the cancerous cells to other parts of the body through the lymphatic system.
Read the full and original article, ‘ Lung Cancer In Non-Smokers: No Longer Only a Smoker’s Disease ’, on Neumark Lung & Chest Surgery Centre’s website.