Global Health Asia-Pacific Issue 2 | 2023 | Page 57

Lung Cancer In Non-Smoking People ? A Silent Killer

Lung cancer is a daunting reality for millions of people across the globe , with smoking as its primary cause . However , it ’ s essential to note that non-smokers are not immune with lung cancer cases occurring regardless of whether or not someone has ever smoked before .

Why Do Non-smokers Get Lung Cancer ? It is a common misconception that only smoking can lead to lung cancer . Non-smokers can also be affected by this disease . According to �r Tan Chee Seng , lung cancer specialist at OncoCare Cancer Centre ( Singapore ), lung cancer in non-smokers is more common than we think , with 10-20 % of people who were diagnosed with lung cancer being nonsmokers . Genetics like a family history of lung cancer and exposure to environmental risk factors , such as second-hand smoke , air pollution , asbestos , and radon , can increase the risk of lung cancer in nonsmokers . It is essential to understand that lung cancer can affect anyone , regardless of their smoking history .
Symptoms Of Lung Cancer Be aware of the possible signs and symptoms of lung cancer , which may include persistent coughing that worsens over time , chest pain , difficulty breathing , wheezing , coughing up blood , feeling constantly fatigued , and unexplained weight loss .
Lung cancer , or lung carcinoma is often referred to as a “ silent killer ” because it can develop without causing noticeable symptoms in its early stages . Unfortunately , this can make it difficult to detect the disease until it has advanced to a later stage . Because the lungs lack painsensing nerves , lung cancer may not cause pain until it has spread to other areas of the body . Additionally , since the lungs cannot be easily seen or felt , routine screening may not detect the disease until it has become more advanced . Seek medical evaluation & treatment promptly can improve the chances of successful outcomes .
Screenings For Lung Cancer If you are worried about lung cancer , or if you have a history of smoking or other risk factors , it is important to talk to your healthcare provider about the appropriate screening tests for you . The only recommended screening test for lung cancer is lowdose computed tomography ( ��CT ). �uring an ��CT scan , a low dose of radiation is used to create detailed images of your lungs . The scan is painless and only takes a few minutes to complete .
Cancer Treatment Options For patients diagnosed with lung cancer , treatment options depend on the stage and severity of the disease . For early-stage lung cancer ( stage 1 or stage 2 ), surgery may be recommended to potentially cure
cancer . Surgical procedures such as lobectomy to remove a section of the lung or pneumonectomy to remove the entire lung aim for the removal of the tumour and nearby lymph nodes . In selected patients with high risk features , additional treatment maybe required for eg chemotherapy , oral targeted therapy , immunotherapy or a combination of these . �o consult your oncologist on the individual suitability of these treatments .
In cases where surgery is not possible or if the cancer has advanced , radiation therapy or chemotherapy may be recommended . Radiation therapy uses high-energy rays to shrink or destroy tumours , while chemotherapy uses specially developed medication to prevent the cancer cells from growing and dividing , thereby eliminating it .
Targeted therapy is another form of treatment that blocks specific cancer-promoting processes through the use of drugs and is effective for patients whose cancer cells express certain specific abnormalities .
Immunotherapy is a newer form of lung cancer treatment that works by activating the body ’ s immune system to recognise and destroy cancer cells . It may be used alone or in combination with chemotherapy , in suitable patients .
Conclusions Lung cancer in non-smoking people is a frightening and sobering reality . It is much more common than we believe and can happen to anyone . Those with a higher risk should pay particular attention to changes in health that could potentially be related to lung cancer . As with all things health related , being proactive and seeking care from qualified professionals is a must . �on ’ t wait until symptoms become more serious .
Dr Tay Chee Seng MBBS ( Singapore ) MRCP ( United Kingdom ) ONCOCARE CANCER CENTRE ( Singapore )
GlobalHealthAsiaPacific . com ISSUE 2 | 2023