Lung cancer among non-smokers is on the rise

Health Karnataka

Passive smoking, exposure to radon, and air pollution are the main reasons for increasing number of lung cancer cases in non -smokers.

A rise in the number of lung cancer cases among non-smokers is seen across India, majorly in Delhi, Chennai, and Bengaluru as experts said that very four out of ten lung cancer patients are non-smokers.

“My father died due to lung cancer in 2019. He was diagnosed with fourth stage lung cancer. Doctors have asked us about his daily routine and habits. They asked us about where he worked and did he have any smoking habits. He worked as a clerk in the railways. He never had any history of smoking or drinking in his whole life. I don’t know how he got lung cancer. Even doctors were not able to tell us why he got lung cancer,” said Himani from Raichur, Karnataka.

She added that they did radiation to ease her father’s pain. “He was not given any chemotherapy; instead, he was given some drugs after doing mutation analysis,” she said.

Charan from Pulkesi Nagar, Bengaluru said that her aunt was diagnosed with lung cancer in April 2021.“She was a non-smoker. Not only were we shocked, but the doctors were shocked as well, to learn that the Fine Needle Aspiration Cytology (FNAC) reports were lung cancer positive. She was diagnosed with stage 4B cancer and had radiation and chemotherapy for eight months before she died,” he said.

He added that the doctors were not able to trace how or why she was diagnosed with lung cancer. Though we said that cancer has been running in our bloodline, doctors say it is not hereditary and suggested we get checked for cancer once a year.

In India, lung cancer constitutes 6.9 per cent of all new cancer cases and 9.3 per cent of all cancer related deaths in both sexes. According to_research , many lung cancer  patients in Bengaluru are non-smokers. The most prevalent cause of lung cancer in non-smokers is radon (radioactive element found in tobacco)  exposure, secondhand smoking, air pollution, or other reasons.

“Secondary smoking is a major cause of lung cancer in nonsmokers. Pollution does lead to cancer among nonsmokers. Lung cancer is more common in regions with greater levels of pollution,” said Dr Phanindra Reddy, a pulmonologist at HCG cancer centre, pinnacle hospital, Vizag.

In Karnataka

According to statistics, lung cancer is the most common disease in males. accounting for 14 per cent of all the cases. Lung cancer accounts for 8.4 per cent cases in all-female cancer patients.

Dr Ravi Babu, chief administrative officer (CAO), Vydehi Hospital said that during the past two years the number of cancer patient admissions has increased in our hospital. “Most of the cases that we get through Arogya Karnataka schemes are cancer patients only,” he said.

Dr Raghunath Rao, an expert oncologist from HCG Cancer Hospital, Sampangi Rama Road, Bengaluru, said, “Secondary smoke is one of the major causes to develop lung cancer. To put it another way, if your father smokes, or if your coworkers smoke around you, you are more likely to develop lung cancer. Then there’s also third-hand smoke, which states that if a husband smokes and his pregnant wife inhales the smoke, the baby within her receives the nicotine and all.”

He added that pollution can also lead to lung cancer. “There are several forms of lung cancer. People, especially women who do not smoke,are exposed to smoke from other sources, such as cooking. Most people believe that cigarette smoking is not the only cause of lung cancer,” he said.

He further added that non-smokers have a greater prevalence of lung illness and lung cancer. “Lung cancer is not inherited. There is a familial cancer syndrome, however, lung cancer does not run in families. It is usually a lifestyle disorder,” he explained.