Lung Cancer Isn’t Just a Smoker’s Disease

Lung cancer is commonly misunderstood as a disease that only strikes habitual smokers.

Smoking is in fact the leading cause of lung cancer. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), tobacco smoke contains more than 7,000 chemicals, at least 70 of which are known to cause cancer. People who smoke cigarettes are 15 to 30 times more likely than nonsmokers to get lung cancer or die from the disease.

But nonsmokers, though at a lower risk for lung cancer, aren’t invulnerable to the second most common cancer in men and women (excluding skin cancer). In addition to secondhand smoke, which the CDC says is the cause of about 7,300 lung cancer deaths in the United States every year, family history and environmental hazards are among the leading risk factors for lung cancer in people with no history of tobacco use.

Radon, a naturally occurring radioactive gas that comes from rocks and soil, is the second leading cause of lung cancer. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) estimates that radon causes 21,000 lung cancer deaths every year, and that nearly 3,000 of those deaths are of people who never smoked. What makes radon such a lethal pollutant is that it doesn’t have a discernible presence; it is an invisible, tasteless, odorless gas that pervades dwellings and buildings through cracks in walls, foundations, basement floors, and other openings. Radon can get trapped in structures and build up to dangerous levels over time. One out of every 15 homes in the United States has high radon levels.

Everyone should have their homes tested for radon. Although no safe level of exposure to radon has been established, the EPA recommends taking action to reduce levels that exceed 4 picocuries per liter of air (pCi/L). Radon testing is simple and can be done with an inexpensive do-it-yourself kit. There are short-term detection kits that are kept in homes for up to a week to collect samples for lab analysis. Long-term tests are more accurate, but take at least three months to complete. Most test kits include the cost of lab analysis and an addressed envelope for submission, and results are provided in a matter of weeks, says the American Lung Association. You can also have a certified professional test your home for radon. High levels can be mitigated by making air flow changes, sealing cracks in floors and walls, or installing a radon ventilation system.lungcancer

There are other pollutants that can increase the risk for lung cancer, including chemicals you may be breathing in at work on a daily basis. People are most familiar with asbestos, which in addition to lung cancer poses risk for mesothelioma (a rare form of cancer that affects the thin linings of the lung, chest, abdomen and heart) and asbestosis (a chronic disease of the lungs). Arsenic, cadmium, chromium, crystalline silica, diesel exhaust, nickel, and uranium also are associated with lung cancer. If you have concerns about hazardous chemicals in your work environment, you should speak with your employer and your doctor about how best to protect yourself while on the job.

Cancer survivors who underwent radiation therapy to the chest also may have a higher risk of developing lung cancer, though it may take years for the disease to surface, if at all. According to the American Cancer Society, while some cases of leukemia related to previous radiation procedures develop within a few years of exposure (with the risk peaking at 5 to 9 years), solid tumor cancers like those of the lung and breast may not be diagnosed for 10, maybe more than 15 years after exposure. The risk of developing a solid tumor heightens as the dose of radiation increases. Some cancers require larger doses of radiation than others, the American Cancer Society says. A person’s age at the time of being exposed to radiation is also a factor. The American Cancer Society says the risk of getting a second cancer due to exposure to radiation treatment is real, but low. Radiation techniques have steadily improved over the years. Modern treatments target cancers more precisely and more is known about setting radiation doses. It is recommended that patients speak with their doctor about possible long-term effects before making a decision regarding radiation therapy.

In addition to preventive measures including tobacco cessation and reducing exposure to radon and industrial compounds, health experts recommend low-dose CT lung cancer screening for high-risk individuals, particularly current and former smokers between the ages of 55 and 80. LifeBridge Health offers an in-depth lung cancer screening procedure that can potentially detect the disease in its early stages, when it is easier to treat. The procedure, coordinated by a nurse navigator and a multidisciplinary team of experts, includes a low-dose CT chest scan that produces highly detailed images of internal structures and protects portions of the body beyond the scanned region from extreme X-ray exposure. The Thoracic Tumor Clinic at Sinai Hospital, which is a part of LifeBridge Health’s Alvin & Lois Lapidus Cancer Institute, treats small cell and non-small cell lung cancer as well as mesothelioma.

For more information about our lung cancer screenings, call 866-404-DOCS. If you have questions about the Thoracic Clinic, or if you would like to schedule an appointment, call 410-601-4600.

To schedule an appointment with one of our highly trained physicians and find out why LifeBridge Health is Baltimore's premier health care organization, call 410-601-WELL.

Print this entry

No Comments Yet.

Leave a comment

*

Facebook

Twitter

YouTube

LinkedId

Instagram

Follow Me on Instagram
  • Regram: @hopeforhenry . . . Lenny "Batman" Robinson dedicated his life to children. Today, on the second anniversary of his dealt, you can honor his life by making a donation in his memory to the Lenny Batman Robinson Hope for Henry Program at #SinaiHospital of Baltimore. http://bit.ly/2wfBLpb @lbrhopeforhenry . . . #Batman #Maryland #HopeForHenry #AlwaysRemember

    lifebridgehealth: "Regram: @hopeforhenry .
.
.
Lenny "Batman" Robinson dedicated his life to children. Today, on the second anniversary of his dealt, you can honor his life by making a donation in his memory to the Lenny Batman Robinson Hope for Henry Program at #SinaiHospital of Baltimore. http://bit.ly/2wfBLpb 
@lbrhopeforhenry .
.
.
#Batman #Maryland #HopeForHenry #AlwaysRemember"
    8
    1
  • The #Back2School season is here and #LifeBridgeHealth is helping to spread the word about how to make sure your child's health is in good shape before getting back into the classroom. Join us today (8/15) at 2:00pm for a #FacebookLive segment with Dr. Kumar from LifeBridge Health Pediatrics Baltimore North. #TuneIn #School #BackToSchool

    lifebridgehealth: "The #Back2School season is here and #LifeBridgeHealth is helping to spread the word about how to make sure your child's health is in good shape before getting back into the classroom. 
Join us today (8/15) at 2:00pm for a #FacebookLive segment with Dr. Kumar from LifeBridge Health Pediatrics Baltimore North. 
#TuneIn #School #BackToSchool"
    4
    0
  • This month, #LifeBridgeHealth launches "Medical Moment," a new series highlighting some amazing stories from LifeBridge Health. Watch for the first story on August 15 during #WBAL-TV 11 Baltimore's 5pm news. #Medical #Baltimore #Maryland #Hospital #Healthcare #MedicalMoments #LiveHealthy #BeHealthy #Community @WBALTV11

    lifebridgehealth: "This month, #LifeBridgeHealth launches "Medical Moment," a new series highlighting some amazing stories from LifeBridge Health. Watch for the first story on August 15 during #WBAL-TV 11 Baltimore's 5pm news.

#Medical #Baltimore #Maryland #Hospital #Healthcare #MedicalMoments #LiveHealthy #BeHealthy #Community @WBALTV11"
    15
    1
  • You definitely don't want to miss these adorable #cakepops at the #CarrollHospital #FarmersMarket today!! Swing by and grab a couple for the weekend along with some fresh, locally grown #fruits and #vegetables! The farmer's market runs between 12:30 - 4:30 pm, on the third level of the parking garage. See you there! #FarmersMarketWeek #FreshFood #Market #Farm #ShopLocal #ShopFresh #Maryland #Food #Cake #Dessert #LifeBridgeHealth

    lifebridgehealth: "You definitely don't want to miss these adorable #cakepops at the #CarrollHospital #FarmersMarket today!! Swing by and grab a couple for the weekend along with some fresh, locally grown #fruits and #vegetables! 
The farmer's market runs between 12:30 - 4:30 pm, on the third level of the parking garage. See you there! 
#FarmersMarketWeek #FreshFood #Market #Farm #ShopLocal #ShopFresh #Maryland #Food #Cake #Dessert #LifeBridgeHealth"
    23
    0
  • The partnership between #LifeBridgeHealth & Fitness and The Joel Gamble Foundation is a great example of our community commitment. #LifeBridgeHealth CFO and Executive Vice President David Krajewski stopped by a training session to see how #Parisi Speed School coaches are working with some local youth on building their self-confidence as well as their athletic skills. #Maryland #Baltimore #JoelGamble #NFL #Athlete #Athletic #Fitness #Training

    lifebridgehealth: "The partnership between #LifeBridgeHealth & Fitness and The Joel Gamble Foundation is a great example of our community commitment. #LifeBridgeHealth CFO and Executive Vice President David Krajewski stopped by a training session to see how #Parisi Speed School coaches are working with some local youth on building their self-confidence as well as their athletic skills.
#Maryland #Baltimore #JoelGamble #NFL #Athlete #Athletic #Fitness #Training"
    18
    0
  • In honor of International Assistance Dog Week, we’re spotlighting the Pet Therapy Program at #CarrollHospital. Therapy dogs like our friend Fleuri, pictured here, comfort patients and their families, and offer them a mental break. #IADW . . . #Dog #Dogs #TherapyDog #AssistanceDog #DogOfInstagram #PetTherapy #LifeBridgeHealth

    lifebridgehealth: "In honor of International Assistance Dog Week, we’re spotlighting the Pet Therapy Program at #CarrollHospital. Therapy dogs like our friend Fleuri, pictured here, comfort patients and their families, and offer them a mental break. #IADW .
.
.
#Dog #Dogs #TherapyDog #AssistanceDog #DogOfInstagram #PetTherapy #LifeBridgeHealth"
    22
    0
  • Are you seeing double? Today is the start of #TwinsDays, an observance founded in #Twinsburg, Ohio, which honors all multiples - identical, fraternal, young and old, #twins, triplets, quads — and their families. To celebrate the day, we asked twins with a connection to #LifeBridgeHealth to come forward - check out some of these great pictures! #Twinning #TeamLifeBridge #Double #Siblings

    lifebridgehealth: "Are you seeing double? Today is the start of #TwinsDays, an observance founded in #Twinsburg, Ohio, which honors all multiples - identical, fraternal, young and old, #twins, triplets, quads — and their families. To celebrate the day, we asked twins with a connection to #LifeBridgeHealth to come forward - check out some of these great pictures! #Twinning #TeamLifeBridge #Double #Siblings"
    12
    1
  • At #LifeBridgeHealth, #community is at the heart of everything we do. We were so pleased to participate in #NationalNightOut2017 events across our area last night, such as this one in #Towson with Dr. Gaurav Kumar, Dr. Anisa Mirza and practice manager Kristina Butcher. #Maryland #NNO #NationalNightOut #Safety

    lifebridgehealth: "At #LifeBridgeHealth, #community is at the heart of everything we do. We were so pleased to participate in #NationalNightOut2017 events across our area last night, such as this one in #Towson with Dr. Gaurav Kumar, Dr. Anisa Mirza and practice manager Kristina Butcher. #Maryland #NNO #NationalNightOut #Safety"
    17
    0
  • The Joel Gamble Foundation continued their 8 week Summer Health and Wellness Program at Lifebridge Health and Fitness with Coppin Academy High School & Western District Police Officers last week. We are thrilled to be a part of such a great and active organization! #thejoelgamblefoundation #baltimore #community #youth #youthprograms #positive #nfl #nflpa #nflalumni #leader #rolemodel #baltimore #health #healthy #fitness #weighttraining #westerndistrictstrong #weightlifting #hardwork #summer #health #LifeBridgeHealth

    lifebridgehealth: "The Joel Gamble Foundation continued their 8 week Summer Health and Wellness Program at Lifebridge Health and Fitness with Coppin Academy High School & Western District Police Officers last week. We are thrilled to be a part of such a great and active organization! 
#thejoelgamblefoundation #baltimore #community #youth #youthprograms #positive #nfl #nflpa #nflalumni #leader #rolemodel #baltimore #health #healthy #fitness #weighttraining #westerndistrictstrong #weightlifting #hardwork #summer #health #LifeBridgeHealth"
    29
    1
  • Felicia Graber, a #Holocaust #survivor, received a warm welcome from #Levindale residents and patients, and children from the #summer learning programs of Macedonia and Mt. Moriah Baptist Churches, at a recent kosher luncheon held in her honor. Ms. Graber shared her personal experiences in her presentation: Resilience in the face of the Holocaust. Thank you to Rabbi Jeffrey Orkin at Levindale Hebrew Geriatric Center and Hospital for arranging this event! #WeRemember #HolocaustSurvivor #History #Hospital #LifeBridgeHealth #Educate #Event

    lifebridgehealth: "Felicia Graber, a #Holocaust #survivor, received a warm welcome from #Levindale residents and patients, and children from the #summer learning programs of Macedonia and Mt. Moriah Baptist Churches, at a recent kosher luncheon held in her honor. Ms. Graber shared her personal experiences in her presentation: Resilience in the face of the Holocaust. Thank you to Rabbi Jeffrey Orkin at Levindale Hebrew Geriatric Center and Hospital for arranging this event!
#WeRemember #HolocaustSurvivor #History #Hospital #LifeBridgeHealth #Educate #Event"
    18
    0