Lung Cancer on the Rise in Nonsmokers
Smoking and lung cancer have long gone hand-in-hand with those who light up far more at risk for developing this potentially deadly disease. Researchers are finding, however, a rather disturbing trend in the numbers of lung cancer patients being diagnosed who happen to have never had a habit to kick in the first place.
The number of nonsmoking lung cancer patients is on the rise in both the United States and the United Kingdom, two separate studies show. In the United States, the annual estimate for new cases is about 221,200, including smokers and nonsmokers both.
A study focusing on the British population found that over seven years the number of new cases involving non-smokers had climbed from about 13 percent to 28 percent. The numbers are similar in the United States where researchers have found that women tend to be more likely to develop the disease even if they have a history of never smoking in the past.
The British study was conducted using the medical records of 2,170 patients between 2008 and 2014. In the U.S. study, researchers looked at 12,000 cases.
Causes for the rise in non-smoking-related lung cancer cases have not been isolated. Even so, doctors point out that genetic factors may play a role. Exposure to asbestos and radon may also be involved. Further study will need to be performed to delve into the whys behind the trend should it continue on a sharp upward climb.
Lung cancer is an especially tricky disease to beat because it presents with no noticeable symptoms at its onset. While smokers and other deemed at high risk may find screening available early, those who lack risk factors may find screening is not readily offered. People who believe they are at risk for the disease are urged to discuss screening with their health care providers. Also, those who suffer from persistent pulmonary issues are also urged to speak with their doctors.