According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), there were 218,520 new cases of lung cancer and 142,080 related deaths in the United States in 2018.
Globally, in 2020, lung cancer was the second most common cancer after breast cancer, with 2.21 million cases. It was responsible for 1.8 million deaths.
Although common, lung cancer is often misunderstood. To help us uncover the truth, we enlisted the help of Dr. Fred R. Hirsch, executive director of the Center of Excellence for Thoracic Oncology at Mount Sinai Tisch Cancer Institute, in New York City. He is also the Joe Lowe and Louis Price Professor of Medicine, Hematology, and Medical Oncology at the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai.
Like dr. Hirsch explained to Medical News Today, “That is not correct, and unfortunately it is a very painful myth and it causes the stigma.”
According to the CDC, about 10-20% of people with lung cancer in the U.S. have never smoked in their lives or have smoked fewer than 100 cigarettes.
Each year, about 7,300 lung cancer deaths among nonsmokers are due to secondhand smoke, the CDC reports, and another 2,900 are due to radon exposure.
“There are several ways to reduce the risk of lung cancer,” explains Dr. Hirsch out. “First and foremost is smoking prevention and smoking cessation.”
For anyone trying to quit smoking, here are some fact-based tips to help.
dr. Hirsch also described the importance of limiting exposure to secondhand smoke, also known as secondhand smoke. According to the CDC:
“Non-smokers exposed to secondhand smoke at home or work increase their risk of developing lung cancer by 20-30%.”
“Other smoking products are also considered a potential risk for the development of lung cancer,” said Dr. Hirsch.
“Lung cancer screening with a low-dose CT scan in high-risk populations, such as those over 50 with a history of 20 years or more of smoking a pack a day, reduces lung cancer deaths by more than 20%. ”
“Other risk factors include exposure to radon,” continued Dr. Hirsch. “Measuring radon in the home is therefore important. [In addition,] certain lifestyle behaviors are considered potential risk factors, and exercise and avoiding obesity is important.”
“No, that is not true.” dr. Hirsch confirmed. Although more than half of people diagnosed with lung cancer are over the age of 65, “an increasing number of younger people under the age of 50 are getting lung cancer, especially women.”
There is good evidence that traffic pollution increases the risk of lung cancer. For example, the authors of a meta-analysis who examined this conclude:
“Exposure to nitrogen dioxide, nitrogen oxide, sulfur dioxide and particulate matter were positively associated with a risk of lung cancer. Occupational exposure to air pollution among professional drivers significantly increased the incidence and mortality of lung cancer.”
However, comparisons between pollution and smoking are more difficult to make. “Living in polluted cities is a risk factor, but no one knows for sure if it’s worse than using tobacco products, and the combination may be worse,” explains Dr. Hirsch out.
Simply put, according to Dr. Hirsch: “Smoking cessation significantly reduces lung cancer risk.”
Aside from lung cancer, quitting smoking also reduces the risk of developing a range of other conditions, including heart disease, osteoporosis, and diabetes.
As the National Institute on Aging writes:
“It doesn’t matter how old you are or how long you’ve smoked, quitting smoking anytime will improve your health. Quitting will likely add years to your life, breathe easier, have more energy, and save money.”
“We believe cannabis is a risk factor,” explains Dr. Hirsch explains, “but we need more long-term studies. Epidemiological evidence for a link between cannabis and lung cancer is limited and conflicting.”
One of the difficulties in studying this association, he explained, is that people who smoke cannabis often also smoke tobacco. This makes it more difficult to separate the effects of each factor.
This is not true. In addition to the myriad benefits of smoking cessation, “people with lung cancer who quit smoking have a better prognosis,” confirmed Dr. Hirsch.
“No, lung cancer surgery doesn’t make lung cancer spread,” Dr. Hirsch to MNT. He then explained why it is important to have surgery early and what measures are being taken to prevent the spread.
“Lung cancer surgery is advised in early stage lung cancer.” At this stage, he explained, it can cure the cancer.
“If a tumor is large or has locoregional spread,” he continued, “adjuvant therapy, such as chemotherapy or immunotherapy before surgery, will further reduce the risk of cancer cells in the blood.”
dr. Hirsch added that clinical research has shown that this approach prolongs survival and reduces the risk of death.
According to Dr. Hirsch: “Talcum has not been associated with a higher risk of lung cancer.”
He explained how this myth might have started:
“Some studies have shown a slightly higher risk in people involved in talc mining and processing, but it’s not clear whether this is due to the mineral or other underground things known to cause lung cancer, such as the radioactive gas radon. .”
“Unfortunately, that’s not always the case,” explained Dr. Hirsch out. “Lung cancer can be detected in completely asymptomatic cases or in individuals with mild respiratory symptoms.”
He explained that this is one of the reasons why screening for lung cancer in high-risk people is so important. He pointed out that there may be a benefit to screening even in non-smokers, but studies have not yet confirmed this.
“Studies of lung cancer screening in never smokers are ongoing,” he said, reiterating that catching lung cancer early increases survival rates.
Fortunately, this is also false. According to Dr. Hirsch, when health care professionals detect lung cancer early, “it has a cure rate of over 60%.”
He continued: “Even lung cancer diagnosed today in more advanced disease has a much better long-term survival potential in certain situations. The advances in therapy and outcomes for patients with advanced lung cancer that has specific genetic mutations, on which specific therapies can being targeted, the past decade has been huge.”
“Because antioxidants play an important role in protecting our cells from DNA damage, including cancer-causing mutations or other genome abnormalities, several clinical studies have been conducted, but unfortunately most have not shown adequate protection against lung cancer in a clinical setting. said Dr. Hirsch us.
“There are a few studies indicating that various dietary antioxidants, such as carotenoids and vitamin C, may protect against lung cancer, but the results are generally somewhat equivocal. More specific studies are needed in well-defined smoking populations, as well as studies to ‘doses’ of antioxidants.”
Smoking may be the most well-known risk factor for lung cancer, but it is by no means the only one. Other risk factors include a family history of lung cancer, exposure to air pollution, exposure to radon, exposure to asbestos, previous radiation therapy to the chest, and chronic lung disease.
After earning a bachelor’s degree in neuroscience from the British University of Manchester, Tim completely changed course to work in sales, marketing and analytics. Realizing that his heart is truly with science and writing, he changed course again and joined the Medical News Today team as a news writer. Now Senior Editor for News, Tim leads a team of top writers and editors, reporting on the latest medical research from peer-reviewed journals; he also writes some articles himself. When given the chance, he enjoys listening to the heaviest metal, watching the birds in his yard, thinking about dinosaurs and wrestling with his children.
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