Lung cancer is one of the leading causes of cancer deaths in the United States with more than 100,000 estimated number of deaths, (American Cancer Society, 2019). The diagnosis of lung cancer may differ from person to person. There are times when X-rays fail to reveal small lesions so other patients may undergo a CT Scan. Other diagnostic tests include sputum cytology and tissue sample biopsy.
Although cigarette smoking is an undisputed cause of lung cancer, not all cases of lung cancer occur to smokers or non-smokers alone. 50% of people suffering from lung cancer are former smokers while 10-15% have never really smoked. This means that being free from nicotine and other harmful chemical content of cigarettes doesn’t mean you’re safe enough.
The most common cause of lung cancer for non-smokers is second-hand smoking (aka passive smoking). Doctors say that non-smokers who reside with smokers have a 24% increase in developing a lung cancer cell. Second-hand smoking is classified into two types: sidestream and mainstream.
Sidestream smoke occurs when a non-smoker inhales the smoke from a smoker’s lighted cigarette while mainstream is when a non-smoker inhales the smoker’s exhaled smoke. Between sidestream and mainstream, sidestream smoke is more toxic since the inhaled smoke comes directly from the cigarette.
Another leading cause of lung cancer among non-smokers is exposure to radon gas, although it usually takes a long exposure before it harms a person’s health. Radon gas is a byproduct of uranium breakdown, a naturally-occurring gas that can be found in the air. People can get exposed to radon even at home. Simply because it can pass through soil and enter homes through gaps like pipes, drains, and other openings.
Asbestos is a compound element that is generally found in building materials, car parts, and ships. Thus, people who work in construction industries are more likely to develop this illness. It drastically increases the likelihood when workers smoke cigarettes while being too much exposed to asbestos. Ever since it was found a harmful to a person’s health, several countries have banned the use of asbestos in construction and other asbestos-related fields.
There’s also a hidden association between aerosolized oils and lung cancer. It is found that cooking oil fumes contain more than 200 types of harmful gases that when oftentimes inhaled can gradually cause the development of lung cancer.
Genetic mutations also play a role in the causation of lung cancer. This means that lung cancers can be hereditary which is why it sometimes runs in families. So, individuals with a history of lung cancer are likely to acquire the disease during a lifetime. Despite the possibilities of genetic mutations, it’s still difficult to determine a person’s risk of passing on a disorder due to the effects of certain factors such as the differentiation in person’s lifestyle and the environment he or she is in.
Too much exposure to polluted air is another thing. It can be inhaled from outdoors (vehicle exhaust, power plants) and even at home (wood stoves with poor ventilation). Air pollutants contain particles that can harm the lungs and eventually contribute to the development of lung cancer.
Patients who’ve undergone radiation treatment for chest-related diseases such as breast cancers and Hodgkin’s Lymphoma may also have a higher risk for lung cancer. However, doctors argued that this case is not common compared to the previous ones.