Lung cancer, the leading cause of death, fine dust, soot, non-smokers?

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As comedian Kim Chul-min, who was battling lung cancer, passed away on the 16th, interest in lung cancer is growing. It is well known that smoking is the most important risk factor. If so, are there any other causes? There were 28,628 new cases of lung cancer in 2018 alone. There are also 9,104 female patients, and there is an analysis that more than 85% are non-smokers. Let’s take a look at the factors that increase the incidence of lung cancer, the number one mortality among cancers (data from the National Cancer Information Center).

◆ Secondhand smoke, occupation, radiation exposure, air pollution, genetics

1) Smoking is the most important cause of lung cancer. Tobacco contains more than 60 carcinogens. Smokers are up to 80 times more likely to develop lung cancer than nonsmokers.

2) Secondhand smoke is when a non-smoker inhales cigarette smoke while living with a smoker. Like direct smoking, it can cause lung cancer. In particular, the smoke that comes out of the tip of the cigarette without going through a cigarette filter contains more harmful substances. Be careful not to expose your child to secondhand smoke, such as from street smoking.

3) It is a case of exposure to asbestos at work. Lung cancer develops after an incubation period of 10 to 35 years after exposure to asbestos in a workplace. Smokers have a much higher risk of lung cancer when exposed to asbestos.

4) All kinds of radioactive substances can be carcinogens. Uranium is closely associated with the development of small cell cancer among lung cancers, and smokers are more at risk. However, since the radiation dose from examinations such as X-ray examination or computed tomography (CT) is very insignificant, it does not cause lung cancer.

5) Carcinogens exist in the air due to air pollution and soot. Fine dust is a group 1 carcinogen reported by the World Health Organization (WHO). Benzphenylline, benzpyrine, radioactive substances, non-oxide substances, chromium-nickel mixtures, non-combustible aliphatic hydrocarbons, etc. may float. Inhalation of these substances acts as a risk factor for lung cancer. In particular, when smokers are exposed to environmental pollution, the risk of lung cancer increases.

6) There is also a genetic factor. People who have lung cancer in an immediate family member, such as a parent, brother, or sister, are up to three times more likely to develop lung cancer than those without a family history.

◆ In the early stages, there are no symptoms… Late detection increases the risk of death

Lung cancer has no symptoms in its early stages. Cough and sputum similar to a cold appear, but are easy to ignore. If you have bloody sputum, hemoptysis, shortness of breath, chest pain, etc., it is a fairly advanced case. There is a hoarse voice, blood circulation is impaired, and swelling of the neck, face, and arms appears. When a vein protrudes from the chest, the symptoms worsen when leaning forward or lying down. Other symptoms include weight loss, loss of appetite, and vomiting.

◆ Voices of expanding national lung cancer screening… “Including non-smokers”

People aged 54 to 74 who have smoked a pack of cigarettes a day for over 30 years can now receive national lung cancer screening. If lung cancer is detected early through health checkups, surgery can be performed and the survival rate can be increased. It is recommended that low-dose chest CT examinations every 2 years are recommended for high-risk groups of lung cancer. Non-smokers are often unaware of lung cancer in their daily life and are often found late. As the number of non-smokers with lung cancer continues to rise, there are growing calls for the national lung cancer screening to be expanded even to non-smokers.

Reporter Kim Yong-eok [email protected]

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