Lung cancer in non-smokers
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Non-smokers can also develop lung cancer. The tumors show some differences compared to those of smokers, which is why researchers take different pathways of development.
Smoking is the main cause of the development of lung cancer . However, non-smokers are by no means immune from the disease, even if their risk is significantly lower than that of smokers. As is now reported in the specialist magazine Acta Oncologica, the lung cancer diseases of smokers and persons who have never smoked in their lives differ markedly in their properties.
In the Portuguese study, data were collected from 558 patients who developed from non-small-cell lung cancer between 2011 and 2015. 22 percent of them had never smoked in their lives. Of these three-quarters were women, they were usually already 67 years or older and suffered in the majority of cases at an adenocarcinoma. With the never-smokers, it took more time for the physicians to have the right diagnosis of lung cancer after the onset of the first symptoms. This was the case with both men and women; It did not matter which symptoms occurred and what type of tumor was involved.
There were also differences between non-smokers and smokers with regard to the spread of the tumor into other organs: the tumors of non-smokers spread more frequently into the pleural cavity. In addition, certain genetic changes in cancer cells were more frequent than smokers (so-called ALK translocations and EGFR mutations). This has an effect on the therapy options, as long as the tumor has already spread.
Possibly, according to the interpretation of the study authors, the routes of lung cancer development in non-smokers and smokers differ.