Lung Cancer and Non-Smokers | Know Your Risks
According to this article by Lynne Eldridge MD, lung cancer in never smokers is considered to be the 6th leading cause of cancer deaths in the U.S.
Take into consideration the two following facts: Lung cancer is the number one cancer killer, killing more people than colon, breast, kidney, liver, prostate and melanoma cancers combined. Secondly, tobacco smoking accounts for approximately 87 percent of lung cancer deaths.
Here is another statistic that may come as a shock to some: Tobacco usage, both past and present, accounts for approximately 80% of lung cancers in women. That means that 20% of women with lung cancer have never smoked. It makes you think twice about the stigma associated with lung cancer, doesn’t it?
Smoking, exposure to secondhand smoke, asbestos, radon or other harmful carcinogens, a family history of lung cancer—all of these factors play a role in determining an individual’s personal lung cancer risk. It is important to take all of them into consideration, even if one is more prevalent than others.
Recognizing these risk factors is important; equally important, however, is the knowledge of how these factors impact your personal lung cancer risk, and taking charge to monitor your own personal risk.
According to data from the National Cancer Institute, the average five-year survival rate for a lung cancer patient is only 15%. If the cancer is caught in the later stages, after it has spread, that number can drop all the way down to 4%.
The key to fighting lung cancer is catching the disease in its earliest stages, when the five-year survival rate jumps to more than 50%.
We invite you to assess your personal lung cancer risk with this lung cancer risk calculator, developed with the help of clinicians from MD Anderson. Another available tool is the Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center “Lung Cancer Prediction Tool,” which measures risk by taking various factors into account, including age, smoking history, gender and exposure to carcinogens.
By finding one’s propensity for lung cancer, people can get a feel for his or her potential for developing the disease before symptoms appear, and take precautionary action, such as seeing a physician, learning about various methods for early lung cancer detection, or taking action to lower try and lower your personal risk.
With the five-year survival rate so low and symptoms from the disease often not appearing until the late stages of the disease, there is a growing importance for early lung cancer detection methods—one of which is utilizing and understanding proper risk assessment tools.