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Lung Cancer Non Smoker Symptoms

Causes And Risk Factors

Lung Cancer in Non-Smokers

The primary cause of lung cancer among people who have never smoked is radon, according to the Environmental Protection Agency .

Radon is a radioactive gas that comes from the breakdown of uranium in rocks and soils. It can seep into homes and other buildings, such as schools, where it may become concentrated.

Radon has no color or odor. A person must test their home to see if radon is present.

Other potential causes and risk factors

  • Air pollution: The chance of developing lung cancer increases slightly in cities or areas with heavy traffic.
  • Other cancer-causing agents: These include carcinogens, such as uranium, asbestos, and diesel exhaust.
  • Genetics: Changes in the lung cells can lead to lung cancer.
  • the stage of the cancer
  • an individuals overall health
  • the persons lung function
  • the traits of the cancer, such as genetics

The treatment for lung cancer may include one or more therapies:

  • the extent of cancer spread
  • the presence of symptoms

According to the ALA, 18.6% of people with lung cancer will survive for 5 years or longer after their diagnosis. If the lung cancer has not spread, the survival rate is 56%.

How Can I Help Lower My Risk Of Getting Lung Cancer

You can help lower your risk of lung cancer by staying away from secondhand smoke, diesel exhaust, and other air pollution. You should get your home tested for radon and take steps to lower the radon level if it is high.

Some risk factors, such as a personal or family history of lung cancer, cant be changed. If lung cancer runs in your family, talk to your doctor about actions you can take stay healthy. People with lung cancer who have never smoked may have a DNA mutation, such as a mutation in the epidermal growth factor receptor gene or other genes. Cancers caused by these mutations may be treated with targeted therapy.external icon

Prognosis For Lung Cancer

Prognosis refers to the expected outcome of a disease. While it is not possible for a doctor to predict the exact course of the disease, they can give you an idea about the general outlook for people with the same type and stage of cancer.

Your doctor will consider your test results, the type of lung cancer you have, the rate and extent of tumour growth, and other factors including your age, overall health and whether you are a smoker.

The earlier the cancer is found the better the treatment outcomes will be.

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What Are The Stages Of Lung Cancer

Staging allows the physician to fully understand the extent of the patients cancer to determine treatment decisions and predict expected outcomes. Doctors use specific terms to describe the stages of cancer, but a straightforward way of describing staging might be as follows:

  • Localized: The cancer is confined to the lung.
  • Regional: The cancer has spread to lymph nodes within the chest.
  • Distant:The cancer has spread to other parts of the body.

The Lung Cancer Centers At Ctca


Because lung cancer is often diagnosed after its progressed to an advanced stage, its important to turn to a clinical team with expertise to tailor a treatment plan specific to your tumor type, stage, genomic markers and other needs. Having a team of lung cancer experts collaborating daily, all under one roof, allows us to assemble a detailed treatment plan more quickly and more efficiently.

At the Lung Cancer Centers at each of our hospitals, our cancer experts are devoted to a single missiontreating lung cancer patients with compassion and precision. This singular focus enables our oncologists to stay up to date on new and emerging treatments and technologies, allowing us to help you make informed decisions about the options available to treat not just the disease but the side effects that may result. Clinical trials in immunotherapy, cryotherapy and other areas of innovation may be among the options available.

Each patients care team is led by a medical oncologist and coordinated by a nurse, who helps keep track of the various appointments, follows up on tests and answers questions that come up along the way. Your care team also may include a surgeon, radiation oncologist, radiologist, pathologist and interventional pulmonologist with specialized training in non-invasive procedures to help preserve lung function and reduce side effects.

Expert cancer care

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Small Cell Lung Cancer Symptoms

Most of the signs associated with small cell lung cancer are not present until the cancer has progressed. Typically, symptoms of SCLC continue to evolve and worsen as the disease spreads to distant organs.

Early symptoms of small cell lung cancer:

  • Persistent cough
  • Lumps in the neck or collarbone region

Lung Cancer In Young Nonsmokers Is On The Rise: Uncovering The Cause

For years, we have watched lung cancer rates drop in the U.S., except in one group: Adults younger than 40 with no history of smoking.

These patients are often diagnosed with aggressive cases of non-small cell lung cancer , similar to many longtime smokers. What is particularly baffling is that most are otherwise healthy. Even at stage III or IV cancer, research suggests patients may still be able to physically perform at 85 percent of baseline their disease was not highly impacting their daily activities, compared with older patients.

Identifying the lung cancer risks earlier is difficult. There are rarely red-flag symptoms in early-stage lung cancer, and the disease is generally not top-of-mind for young people who have never been smokers. So, when young adults present with persistent respiratory symptoms or noticeable abnormalities on imaging exams, the disease has already advanced to late-stage cancer.

We’ve known for decades that smoking increases the risk of many types of cancer. More than 90 percent of patients with NSCLC are older people with a history of smoking. If we could eliminate smoking, lung cancer would become a relatively rare cancer.

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Smoking Is One Of The Main Causes Of Lung Cancer:

  • Smoking causes 80% of the lung cancer deaths in women and 90% in men.
  • Men that smoke are 23 times more likely to get lung cancer.
  • Female smokers are 13 times more prone to develop lung cancer.

But non-smokers get lung cancer too risk factors include radon gas and worked-related exposure to carcinogens. Non-smokers who are exposed to second-hand smoke have a 20-30% greater risk for developing lung cancer.

Lung cancer is most common in people over 65. However, younger adults can and do develop lung cancer, but less than 2% of patients are below 35.

What Is Lung Cancer

UofL Health oncologist says lung cancer in non-smokers becoming more common

Lung cancer, one of the most common cancers in the world, is a leading cause of cancer-related death in men and women in the United States. While smoking cigarettes is by far the most common cause of lung cancer, risk factors also include a family history of lung cancer and certain environmental contributors.

Like all cancers, lung cancer begins at the cellular level and is the result of abnormal cells that reproduce rapidly and out of control. It can start in one area of the body and spread to other organs or the bones.

Primary lung cancer refers to cancer that starts in the lungs, of which there are two main types: non-small cell lung cancer and small cell lung cancer . Named initially for how the cancer cells look under the microscope, these two types account for most of the 230,000 newly diagnosed cases of lung cancer in the U.S. each year.

Smokers tend to get a type of NSCLC called squamous cell . Most nonsmokers, on the other hand, are diagnosed with a different non-small cell type known as adenocarcinoma.

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Hear From Our Experts


Dr. Nick Loudas, radiation oncologist, joins Dr. Arnold to discuss lung cancer diagnosis and treatment. They talk about the Lung Check and the importance of early detection, treatment options for lung cancer patients, how providers take a collaborative team approach to battling lung cancer and more.

What Is The Outlook For People With Lung Cancer

Your healthcare providers will help you understand what to expect after cancer treatment in terms of follow-up care, lifestyle changes, and making important health-related decisions.

If lung cancer is localized or regional and treatment has been administered with the intention of curing the cancer, follow-up testing will be performed to ensure the cancer does not recur. You also will be assessed for side effects related to the treatment received, and treatment will be offered to help with any related symptoms.

Follow-up in patients whose lung cancer is metastatic and/or treatment is intended to improve the quality of life and extend life. Tests done over time will determine how the cancer is responding to treatment, and to monitor for side effects from therapy. The length of treatment or the need to change therapies will be determined by these follow-up tests.

Last reviewed by a Cleveland Clinic medical professional on 07/10/2019.


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When To Talk To Your Doctor

If youre experiencing symptoms and at an increased risk of developing lung cancer, you should talk to your doctor about having a routine screening, Dr. Hales says.

Screenings for people at high risk of developing lung cancer offers hope for early detection, when surgery is a possible cure. Read more about lung cancer screening.

People considered at high risk for developing lung cancer:

  • Have a history of heavy smoking
  • Are current smokers or former smokers who quit within the past 15 years and
  • Are between the ages of 55 and 80.

If your doctor detects anything abnormal during a lung cancer screening, diagnostic tests such as imaging scans and biopsies are the next step. Read more about how to reduce your risk of lung cancer.

Radon Exposure Is Associated With Lung Cancer

5 Causes of Lung Cancer (in non smokers)

This chemical is a naturally-occurring gas produced by the radioactive decay of the element radium. Most radon exposure happens inside homes, schools, and workplaces, but you would never know it because it has no odor. Over time, inhaling this gas can cause lung cancer. Test your home for radon or install a radon mitigation system if tests show that you have high levels of radon in your home or workplace. Data from the Oregon Health Authority indicates that areas around the Willamette Valley are at moderate risk of radon exposure. Learn how to test for radon and what to do to lower your exposure.

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Unexpected Signs And Symptoms Of Lung Cancer

5 min read

It is widely believed that a cough is the primary sign of lung cancer, or that everyone diagnosed with lung cancer would experience shortness of breath. However, thats not always the case. In fact, there are several surprising signs and symptoms that can indicate lung cancer.

Q What Are The Symptoms Of Lung Cancer In Non

A. The warning signs and symptoms of lung cancer are generally the same for smokers and non-smokers. However, unless you know that you have the risk factors and exposures noted above, non-smokers are more likely to be caught off guard or dismiss warning signs.

Lung cancer typically grows subtly for years without causing any symptoms. Because of this, the cancer is often undetected until advanced stages, when treatment is more difficult. Ask your doctor to check out any of the following symptoms:

  • Chest discomfort or pain
  • Swelling of face and/or neck veins

One broad but important rule of thumb is to know your body and watch for unusual changes and subtle warning signals. Be sure to tell your doctor about any risk factors or exposures, and if you live or work in a smoke-filled environment, or work in a factory.

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What Are The Symptoms

Symptoms of lung cancer can include:

  • A cough that doesnt go away or gets worse
  • Frequent lung infections

There are other potential signs of lung cancer that are not related to the lungs including weight loss, loss of appetite, headaches, bone pain or blood clots. If you are a non-smoker and think you have lung cancer or feel you are at risk, we recommend you schedule an appointment with your primary care provider. If you are diagnosed, our team is here to help.

Statistics courtesy of the American Lung Association and the American Cancer Society

What Does Lung Cancer Feel Like

Growing number of non-smokers diagnosed with lung cancer in US

You may not have any symptoms early on, or they may be vague. Campbell had only a very mild cough by the time they found her tumor. And itâs something she wouldâve blamed on allergies had her primary doctor not ordered those first scans.

But lung cancer symptoms in females who never smoked are the same as for anyone else. Here are some things Campbell says she and other women in her lung cancer community had before their diagnosis:

  • An ongoing dry cough
  • Hoarseness or total loss of voice
  • Shortness of breath

Experts agree you should look into any health problem that doesnât go away. Tell your doctor if you have a family history of cancer, and push for more tests until you get the reason behind your symptoms.

âI would be persistent,â Herbst says. If a scan shows an abnormal growth, âyou need a biopsy to figure out whatâs going on.â

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Common Lung Cancer Symptoms

Often, when patients receive a lung cancer diagnosis, they have been experiencing symptoms such as persistent breathing difficulty, recurring respiratory infections or chest pain for a while. But the patient likely didnt realize these were symptoms of lung cancer, so they waited to see a doctor.

While every cough or case of bronchitis isnt a reason to believe you have lung cancer, if you are at high risk of developing lung cancer, paying attention to the early warning signs is critical, saysRussell Hales, M.D., a board-certified radiation oncologist and director of the multidisciplinary clinic at The Lung Cancer Program at the Sidney Kimmel Comprehensive Cancer Center.

Common lung cancer symptoms include:

Chemotherapy And Targeted Therapies

Chemotherapy is the use of drugs that are designed to kill rapidly growing cells, such as cancer cells. Chemotherapy may be injected directly into a vein or given through a catheter, which is a thin tube placed into a large vein and kept there until it is no longer needed. Some chemotherapy drugs are taken orally in pill form.

Targeted agents are a newer class of drugs that are designed to act against specific weaknesses in cancer cells or surrounding supportive tissues, such as blood vessels. These drugs can also be taken orally or by IV. They are most effective in cancers with specific changes in their genes or cell receptors.

In early stages of non-small cell cancer, chemotherapy may be used in conjunction with surgery to improve survival rates. In more advanced stages of non-small cell cancer and in all stages of small cell cancer, chemotherapy and targeted therapies may be used to relieve symptoms and extend life.

Chemotherapy affects both normal cells and cancer cells. Your doctors will try to prevent side effects as much as possible while treating the cancer appropriately. Side effects depend largely on the specific type of drug and the amount given. They can be different for each person and may be only temporary. Common side effects of chemotherapy include nausea and vomiting, hair loss, mouth sores and/ or fatigue. Your healthcare providers can suggest ways to make any side effects manageable and to help improve symptoms that may occur during and after procedures.

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Lung Cancer Symptoms In Women And Men

Lung cancer is the second most common type of cancer diagnosed in both men and women , according to the American Cancer Society . Only prostate cancer is more common for men, and breast cancer is more common for women.

However, lung cancer is the No. 1 cause of cancer death for both genders by far compared with other cancers. Below is a look at the statistics.

  • About 117,910 men and 118,830 women are expected to be diagnosed with lung cancer in 2022, according to the ACS, with an estimated 68,820 deaths among men and 61,360 among women.
  • The number of men diagnosed with lung cancer has decreased in the past four-plus decades, according to the American Lung Association. Diagnosis rates among women were on the rise during the same time period but have started to decline.
  • Women tend to be diagnosed at an earlier age than men.
  • Women who develop lung cancer before menopause are more likely to be diagnosed with advanced disease.

Lung Cancer Among People Who Never Smoked

Signs Of Lung Cancer In Female Non Smokers / Early genome catastrophes ...

Nonsmokers can lower their risk for lung cancer by getting their home tested for radon and taking steps to lower the radon level if it is high.

Lung cancer can be caused by many risk factors other than smoking cigarettes, pipes, or cigars. These risk factors include exposure to other peoples smoke , radon, air pollution, a family history of lung cancer, and asbestos.

In the United States, about 10% to 20% of lung cancers, or 20,000 to 40,000 lung cancers each year, happen in people who never smoked or smoked fewer than 100 cigarettes in their lifetime. Researchers estimate that secondhand smoke contributes to about 7,300 and radonexternal icon to about 2,900 of these lung cancers.

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