Non-Smokers Get Lung Cancer Too

Given Las Vegas’ role as the entertainment capital of the world,  many who call the city home and work in casinos are exposed to second-hand cigarette smoke every day. Lung and bronchus cancer is one of the top three cancers diagnosed in Nevada, and the physicians at Comprehensive Cancer Centers are well versed in  treating patients with lung cancer.

Cancer in non-smokers is not just specific to the Las Vegas area, with the American Cancer Society reporting as many as 20% of people in the United States who die from lung cancer  were people who never smoked. Lung cancer is also the leading cause of cancer-related deaths worldwide.

A non-smoker is defined as a person who doesn’t currently smoke but may have smoked 100 or so cigarettes at some point in their life. There are also people who are considered never-smokers, who have never smoked or who have smoked fewer than 100 cigarettes in their lifetimes. Smokers and non/never-smokers tend to develop different types of lung cancer; the latter group is more likely to develop lung cancer as a result of a genetic mutation or abnormality.

Environmental risk factors, outside of second-hand smoke, such as exposure to radon, air pollution, asbestos and other toxins, as well as previous instances of cancer were widely seen as causes of lung cancer for those who did not smoke. Only recently did a study reveal new insights into genetic causes of the disease.

The study, conducted by an international team from the National Cancer Institute (NCI), part of the National Institutes of Health (NIH), described for the first time three molecular subtypes of lung cancer in people who have never smoked. This genomic analysis of lung cancer in people, with no history of smoking, found a majority of cancer tumors in the lungs arise from the accumulation of mutations caused by natural processes in the body.

It is believed that insights from the study will help unlock mysteries about how lung cancer arises in people who have no history of smoking. This is done so by better understanding the distinct molecular characteristics and evolutionary processes that cause the disease in this group. That new knowledge will advance the development of more precise clinical treatments for this group of lung cancer sufferers.

Signs and Symptoms of Lung Cancer

With the knowledge that lung cancer can occur in non-smokers, it’s important for everyone to be mindful of potential signs and symptoms of lung cancer.  As with any cancer or disease, early detection and treatment are critical to successful outcomes. Anyone noticing any of the following symptoms should be sure to consult a physician to get a more complete diagnosis:

  • Cough that does not go away
  • Chest pain, made worse by deep breathing, coughing or laughing
  • Hoarseness
  • Weight loss and loss of appetite
  • Bloody or rust colored sputum
  • New onset of wheezing or shortness of breath
  • Reoccurring infections, such as bronchitis and pneumonia

Lung Cancer Treatment at Comprehensive

No matter the cause of lung cancer, the team at Comprehensive Cancer Centers has treatment options for the disease.  If lung cancer is suspected, patients will be referred to a member of the practice’s oncology team, who will conduct tests and determine the appropriate treatment plan. The practice recognizes the importance of comprehensive care close to home and provides:

  • Comprehensive care, provided by board-certified oncologists and experienced nurses and support staff
  • Precise radiation treatment, using leading-edge technology which provides fewer side effects
  • Systemic therapies, including chemotherapy, biologic, hormone, immunotherapy and bone-targeting treatments
  • Innovative clinical trials, providing the latest therapies through affiliations with The US Oncology Network, UCLA TRIO-US, USC, Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center and leading pharmaceutical companies to offer groundbreaking research to its patients
  • On-site support services, such as patient navigation, counseling, charitable assistance, nutrition planning and more

It remains important for people to be  better informed about the disease and raise awareness about new developments in treatment and care. This can be done by participating in Lung Cancer Awareness Month. These efforts help everyone stand together against lung cancer, which is the leading cancer killer of women and men in the U.S. To get involved, learn more about the American Lung Association’s LUNG FORCE initiative and get active.

Comprehensive Cancer Centers Can Help

Physicians at Comprehensive Cancer Centers provide a variety of treatment options for patients with lung cancer and those interested in cancer genetic counseling and world-class clinical research to treat the disease. To schedule an appointment with the team at Comprehensive, please call 702-952-3350.


The content is this post is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. Always seek the advice of qualified health providers with questions you may have regarding medical conditions.