Myths on lung cancer in young people, smoking and prevention

31 Mar 2016

Did you know that 10-20% of lung cancer patients have never smoked? Is it worth it to quit smoking after a lung cancer diagnosis? Some of these myths may surprise you.

 

“I don’t smoke so I can’t get lung cancer”

Where does the myth come from?

It is true that cigarette smoking is the number one risk factor for lung cancer. Cancer epidemiologists estimate that 85%–90% of those who die from lung cancer in the United States were smokers. However, not all cases of lung cancer occur in smokers or former smokers.

The reality behind the myth

The majority of people that develop lung cancer are indeed smokers or former smokers. However, about 10%-20% of lung cancer patients are lifelong non-smokers. Therefore, lung cancer is a potential threat even for those who never smoked; moreover, the symptoms of lung cancer in non-smokers may differ from the most common symptoms in people who smoke.

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“Preventing lung cancer is not possible”

Where does the myth come from?

It is true that there is no way to prevent lung cancer with certainty. Doctors could not always explain why one person gets cancer and another does not. However, there are ways to prevent lung cancer.

The reality behind the myth

Certainly, avoiding smoking can lower your risk of developing lung cancer, but it is important to be aware of other factors that may raise or lower your risk as well. Some environmental factors such as exposure to radon can raise your risk, and occupational factors account for 13% to 29% of lung cancers in men. On the bright side, a healthy diet and exercise appear to lower risk.

 

“If I have no lung cancer symptoms, I am safe”

Where does the myth come from?

Most lung cancers do not cause any symptoms, until they have spread too far to be cured. However, symptoms do occur in some people with early lung cancer. If you go to your doctor when you first notice symptoms, there is a higher chance that cancer will be diagnosed at an earlier stage, when treatment is more likely to be effective.

The reality behind the myth

About 25% of lung cancer patients have no symptoms at all. Their disease is often diagnosed through a Computed Tomography scan (CT scan). Scientific association has been recommended that smokers over the age of 50 have an annual so-called “low-dose spiral CT scan”, which may help diagnose the disease early. The signs and symptoms of lung cancer can take years to appear, and they are sometimes confused with symptoms of other health conditions. This is why physicians ask the patient to have a blood test: it can help them determine whether these signs and symptoms are due to another health problem and not lung cancer.

 

“Quitting smoking after a lung cancer diagnosis does not make a difference”

Where does the myth come from?

For many smokers, a cancer diagnosis is a wake-up call that motivates them to quit. However, researchers report that a “substantial minority” of lung cancer patients are still smoking 5 months after their diagnosis.

The reality behind the myth

There are several reasons to quit smoking after a diagnosis of lung cancer.
Research suggests that quitting smoking after a lung cancer diagnosis

  • improves the effectiveness of treatment
  • reduces the risk of secondary tumors; and
  • increases the chances of survival.

Kicking the habit can raise the success rate of surgery, makes treatment more effective, and lowers your risk of dying from causes other than lung cancer.

 

“Young people do not get lung cancer”

Where does the myth come from?

Given the fact that the average age of lung cancer diagnosis is 65 to 70 years, young people believe that they are not at risk of lung cancer.

The reality behind the myth

Lung cancer is more common in older people, but can occur in young people as well. One form of lung cancer, bronchioloalveolar cancer (BAC), appears to be increasing especially among younger, non-smoking women.

 

 

 

Other sources include About Health & HealthCentral

Source: CareAcross