Lung Cancer Causes: I have heard lung... - Lung Cancer Support

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Lung Cancer Causes

Iyana271
Iyana271

I have heard lung cancer is most commonly caused by smoking or being around other people who are smoking. While smoke is the cause of most lung cancer, people who have never smoked can develop lung cancer? Is there any other reason for this disease?

17 Replies
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Denzie
DenzieModerator

Smoking is a factor in 30 different cancers. Why single out this one?

Depending on who you ask 40-50% of lung cancer patients are never and non smokers. According to the ACS and ALA it’s 30 pack/years of tobacco use. That doesn’t explain why so many people who grew up in nonsmoking households develop lung cancer in their 20s and 30s. I follow a family on social media who has 3 people receiving active cancer treatment- the never smoking mother’s was discovered in her early 40s, her oldest daughter was 20 at the time of her diagnosis and the youngest was 10 at her diagnosis. The youngest I’ve seen was 9 at her stage 4 diagnosis. Her parents tried to get a thoracic CT done for 2 years.

Radon is the second leading contributing factor. If you’re concerned get you home tested.

Please do not think that anyone is safe because they don’t smoke. If you have lungs you can get lung cancer.

Btw, only 15% of smokers will develop that cancer.

Iyana271
Iyana271
in reply to Denzie

Thanks for taking your precious time to reply here! I'm really feeling sad to hear about the family who is suffering with this disease, I mean how is it possible that at so much age one can get lung cancer, it feels really horrible to me.

Denzie
DenzieModerator
in reply to Iyana271

The family is being studied. There is a genetic component. Cancers know no age barriers. Although lung cancer is usually considered a disease of an older population.

Have you or someone you loved recently been diagnosed with lung cancer? Are you educating yourself here for a special person or reason?

There are many of us here with different experiences in lung cancer. Let us know how we can help. Also, you might look up the Go2 Lung Cancer Foundation on line. They have a lot of really good information and resources for help or for education.

Iyana271
Iyana271
in reply to Denzie

Thanks for the information! Yes, my uncle got his diagnosis recently and I'm in shock as he has never smoked in his entire life. I was trying to find out the reasons for his cancer, that's all.

A few days ago he was not feeling well and he had a sore throat for a long time, he got tired more often which was not usual so he went for the testing at Positive Bioscience & got his diagnosis, after getting his results he was really scared to death that how can he get this kind of disease. He is denying to take any treatments.

I don't know what will be better for him so trying to find out my answers here & there.

Denzie
DenzieModerator
in reply to Iyana271

Never smokers like your uncle are the fastest growing population of lung cancer patients. This is not the death sentence it used to be. In 2010 I was told I might live 10-15 months. It’s been more than 9 years and I am a stronger person than I ever was.

Some patients with advanced cancer never have chemo or radiation. The get by taking a pill. I’ve an acquaintance who has been on a pill for his metastatic cancer for 13 years now.

Between 1968 when my dad had lung cancer and 2010 when I was diagnosed there were three treatments approved for first line care. In the last 3 years more than 25 first line treatments have been approved. Most of them are pills or tablets.

Lung cancer rarely ever shows symptoms until it is late stage. Stage 4. That’s one reason it’s so deadly. But we are living longer with better quality of life with treatment. There are some excellent medications that prevent the vomiting that used to accompany chemo.

It’s an amazing time to be a lung cancer patient and advocate.

I send hope that your uncle finishes the staging process and learns he can fight his cancer with a tablet. Because he is a never smoker he has a better chance of being able to fight it with a pill.

Iyana271
Iyana271
in reply to Denzie

How is it amazing to be a patient with any kind of disease? Does it make you happy about being hospitalized and being in pain all the time and more than that being on pills and making your mouth bitter all the time that you want to throw up every time!

Bow-19
Bow-19
in reply to Iyana271

It’s worth making sure that your Uncle is tested for mutations eg EGFR, ALK, ROS1 because these types of lung cancer are caused by genetic mutations and treated with targeted tablets. It is often non smokers who have genetic mutations. Wishing him all the best with his treatment x

Iyana271
Iyana271
in reply to Bow-19

Is lung cancer hereditary?

Bow-19
Bow-19
in reply to Iyana271

I am not an expert but I don’t think it is hereditary except for maybe in very rare cases and I am not even certain of that. The mutations that happen seem to be random in relation to EGFR, ALK and ROS1 but it is not known why they happen. Other causes of lung cancer seem to be smoking, radon levels, asbestos but it is worth asking these questions to someone who works in the field and is an expert

Denzie
DenzieModerator
in reply to Iyana271

No. The side effect I feel most is fatigue. I have not had any chemotherapy since 2011. I was able to go back to work. I travel, exercise regularly. I do everything I did before cancer just a bit slower with more naps.

My pain is well managed and I have not experienced that bitter mouth taste since about 6 weeks after my last chemotherapy in 2011.

Keep asking questions. It’s good to be inquisitive. You may wind up in medical school one day.

Iyana271
Iyana271
in reply to Denzie

It is good that you've beaten cancer already and living your normal life.

I hope you'll never have to face such disease again in life so keep in touch with your doctors and get it checked every time you have any doubt.

I have been living with STage IV lung cancer for almost five years. I have had my share of pain and side effects from chemo. But if I had been diagnosed a couple decades ago, I would likely not have survived as well as I have. This time in the history of cancer care is truly amazing. Research advances are changing the way we can live very full lives with this disease. And, honestly, I have found that along with my challenges (craniotomy, chemo, radiation, swelling, achy joints), I have found blessings as well: love and support of friends, reconnection to my faith, focus on what is really important in life instead of whether or not my kid did his chores without being asked or whether my belly looks fat in these jeans. Living with cancer is a big deal, of course. But like any difficulties in our lives, my response and mindset play an enormous role in how I live with it. I’m sorry about your uncle’s diagnosis. I pray he is able to tolerate treatment well.

JudyR616
JudyR616
in reply to Denzie

Thank you for all your info and support. My youngest sister died of stage for lung cancer that spread throughout her body. She was only 47 and had just became a grandmother. I decided to get tested and I found out that I had 1 mm of cancer in my upper right lung which they were able to remove. I am so thankful that I did this since it would’ve spread and I did not want to suffer like my poor sister did. I recommend anyone who has a family member who had cancer, should get checked out.

Iyana271
Iyana271
in reply to JudyR616

Thanks for the information, your information is much appreciated. I'm sorry to hear about your sister! It is really sad to see your loved one dying in front of your eyes. It was the best decision made by you to get it checked and I'm really happy for you that you're all right now.

Btw before getting checked for lung cancer did you found any early symptoms? What were you experiencing beforehand?

Hi there! I was 58 last summer when I was diagnosed with lung cancer. I hadn’t had anything to smoke in 36 years and when I did smoke for 5 years of my life it was very light weekend 1/2 pack a week person. When my surgeon removed my lower left lobe he said my lungs were beautiful pink and like a non smoker. I pushed to get biomarker profile testing done and learned that my cancer was caused by a rare genetic mutation called ALK. I also had a father and aunt who had lung cancer around the same age, although my oncologists don’t believe it is hereditary. This was the best news because there are targeted therapies available to people with ALK. Some stage 4 patients are living 5-10 years. Have your uncle get a biomarker profile on his tumor. The results may extend his life!

Iyana271
Iyana271
in reply to Gatorb8

Well, I think it was a good decision made by you to get biomarker profile testing and thanks for the information. I'll check if it has been done or not.

I was diagnosed with lung cancer in January 2011 (aged 52) and a never smoker. When told it was suspected (after I'd turned up in ER and chest X-ray showed something there three months earlier) I was shocked and said 'I'd never smoked, how could I have that? when I met my thoracic surgeon he explained they were seeing many more women in particular who had never smoked develop adenocarcinomas (non small cell lung cancer). At that time less than 5% of all cancer research was spent on lung cancer due to the stigma/belief that it was self inflicted - thankfully that is no longer the case and there is global research race in all manner of treatments and knowledge to learn more. The situation has changed and improved considerably and there are now many more treatments available in every mode for every stage - however the information on the internet hasn't caught up as results tend to be published in obscure scientific journals that often do not translate into more general awareness media. the statistics on the internet relating to lung cancer are also wildly out of date and inaccurate so do not frighten yourself by looking. After my diagnosis, I was told my specific type was rare but the common thing I could see (as a non medic/scientist) was that many of the women were in the menopausal age range so wondered it had some hormonal link. I also have a rare blood group (more common in SE Asia) and the prevalence of the type I had is in SE Asia (unsure if that's coincidence or linked). I started raising funds for lung cancer research and was appointed to several committees as a 'partner in research' and patient advocate. I've been privileged to attend many cancer conferences and there are breakthroughs being made all the time even with existing treatments to give them in different orders or doses can make a difference. Many of us may also (I did) have mums who smoked through pregnancy and as such data hasn't been routinely gathered, they don't know if this had any impact. Truth is that my generation has experienced so many social and environmental changes, it could be lots of things - many of my generation took the contraceptive pill, I had immunotherapy against hay fever as a child/adolescent - did that affect my immune system? my dad had bowel cancer in his 50s twice - is that linked? unlikely - he is 90 now and had another bowel cancer 3 years ago. radon gas is certainly a link but I haven't lived near any but I did grow up where Spaghetti Junction (the midlands motorway links) was and back then, there was lead in petrol. I've always lived in poor air quality areas but the UK doesn't acknowledge anything except tobacco exposure, radon gas and asbestos exposure as causes. Other countries are assessing other industrial exposure and air quality is being studied in many countries to see impact on lung health generally. I have read many books on cancer - and one thing to understand is it isn't 'caught' from an external source - it is our own cells turning against our body in a strange way (mutating) and not dying off as they should but proliferating at rates that shouldn't happen. It is finding the events that trigger these mutations to happen in some people and not others that is at the heart of so much research - one thing they've found in breast cancer and is now being considered in lung cancer is the volume/amount of inflammatory responses a person has over their lifetime can accelerate mutations. not all will develop into cancer but this is certainly an area being explored. the reduction in cost of testing and sequencing the whole genome is also enabling scientists and researchers to learn much more about what happens in people with lung cancer and in the UK there is a study (PEACE) where patients donate their lung tissue for research after their death which is enabling much more to be learned. the response as others have said is 'if you have lungs, you can get cancer'.

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