Lung cancer among non-smokers is more common than the general thinking. According to the experts at Public Health England, around 6000 people who have never smoked died of lung cancer in UK. The number is even larger than the number of deaths resulting from cervical cancer, ovarian cancer, leukaemia and lymphoma. When considered separately, lung cancer among non-smokers would be eighth most common cause of cancer-related deaths in UK.
Although smoking remains the largest risk factor for lung cancer accounting for 86% of cases, pollution and second-hand smoke are also linked to its development. According to the authors, “Lung cancer in never-smokers is more common than most people think and on the rise: it is time to give this disease the recognition it deserves.” Lung cancer among non-smokers is typically non-small cell lung cancer. Exposure to second-hand smoke increases the risk of getting lung cancer by a third.
Professor Mick Peake, co-author from the University College London Hospitals Cancer Collaborative, said “Despite advances in our understanding, most people who have never smoked do not believe they are at risk and often experience long delays in diagnosis, reducing their chances of receiving curative treatment.” “The stigma of smoking has been the major factor behind the lack of interest in, knowledge of and research into lung cancer. Therefore, in many ways, never-smokers who develop lung cancer are, as a result, disadvantaged, he added.”
This recent Public Health England (PHE) report calls for measures to cut air pollution including stopping cars idling near school gates and promoting car pool lanes. There’s need to raise awareness about other risk factors including indoor and outdoor air pollution.
PHE has published its review of evidence and also recommended specific actions that the local authorities can take to improve the air quality. Clean air generation helps to reduce lung cancer among those who have never smoked.
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