Lung cancer, or lung tumour, is a type of cancer that primarily affects the lungs, the organs responsible for breathing (the process of oxygen and carbon dioxide exchange in the body).
Until the 1900s, lung cancer was uncommon; however, as more individuals began to smoke and the quality of air began to degrade with industrialisation, the incidence of lung cancer increased dramatically.
Although not every individual who smokes can develop lung cancer, smoking markedly raises the likelihood of the disease. Smokers seem to be 15–30 times more inclined, than non-smokers, to develop lung cancer. The longer one smokes and the more frequently one smokes, the greater the risk.
This page will look more closely at the link between smoking and lung cancer.
- Smoking and lung cancer
- Smoking causes lung cancer-statistics
- What are the causes of lung cancer other than smoking?
- How does smoking cause lung cancer in men?
- What are the most common types of lung cancer in smokers?
- Lung cancer cure
- Does second-hand/passive smoke increase the chances of lung cancer?
Smoking and lung cancer
How does lung cancer start from smoking?
- When you inhale tobacco smoke, multitudes of chemical compounds enter the lungs. A lot of these substances have the ability to damage your lung cells’ DNA.
- Your body will work to fix the harm done by such chemicals, but smoking could do greater harm than your body could heal over time. This may eventually lead to the development of cancer cells.
- Smoking tobacco can also harm your lungs’ tiny air sacs, known as alveoli. These small air sacs are the hub of the exchange of gases in your respiratory system. When you exhale, they transfer oxygen into your blood and expel carbon dioxide.
- This harm to the alveoli in the lungs over time can result in chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD).
Smoking causes lung cancer-statistics
As reported by the World Health Organization (WHO), lung cancer is one of the leading causes of cancer death. It is responsible for 1.80 million global fatalities each year.
Here are some important cancer and smoking statistics.
- It is estimated that smoking is responsible for approximately 90% of lung cancers.
- Tobacco smoke exposes us to approximately 7,000 different types of chemicals, including 70 known carcinogens.
- Tobacco use is linked to roughly 22% of cancer deaths.
- When viewed alongside those who continue to smoke, individuals who stop smoking significantly decrease their chance of getting lung cancer by around 30% to 50%, 10 years after they quit smoking.
What are the causes of lung cancer other than smoking?
Approximately 10% to 15% of those diagnosed with lung cancer have no previous smoking history. Aside from smoking, the following factors may increase the likelihood of developing lung cancer:
- Radon exposure: A naturally found gas rising from the ground as well as through tiny cracks in building foundations may result in lung cancer with long-term exposure.
- Genetics: If an immediate member of the family developed lung cancer (even though they were not smokers), you may be at a higher risk of developing the disease.
- Asbestos: Asbestos exposure can raise the likelihood of getting a rare form of lung cancer known as mesothelioma.
- Other substances or chemicals: Exposure to certain chemicals, such as arsenic, some types of chromium, and silica, may also raise your chance of getting lung cancer. Individuals who also smoke may be at even higher risk.
- Air pollution: Inhaling polluted air may increase the likelihood of developing lung cancer slightly.
How does smoking cause lung cancer in men?
Smoking is the leading cause of lung cancer in men, and it has been shown to significantly raise the chance of getting lung cancer in smokers when compared to non-smokers.
Men who continue to smoke are more likely to develop lung cancer than women who smoke, owing to the fact that men smoke more cigarettes per day and for a longer period of time than women.
Chemicals in cigarette smoke can alter the DNA of lung cells, resulting in mutations that promote the proliferation of cancerous cells. Men who smoke are also more likely to have additional risk factors for lung cancer, such as occupational carcinogen exposure and air pollution.
What are the most common types of lung cancer in smokers?
There are two types of lung cancer:
- Non-small cell lung cancer
- Small cell lung cancer
The majority of lung cancers are non-small cell lung cancer, but small cell lung cancers are more aggressive.
Smoking raises the likelihood of both types of cancer in the lungs in a majority of cases.
Individuals with small-cell lung cancer usually have a smoking history.
Non-small cell lung cancer is further divided into several subtypes based on the location in which cancer cells begin to grow.
- Adenocarcinoma begins in the mucous cells lining the lungs. It is one of the common lung cancer types seen in non-smokers, but it still occurs more frequently in smokers than in non-smokers.
- Squamous cell carcinoma begins in the flat cells that line the airways. They are less frequently occurring than adenocarcinomas, but they tend to be associated with smoking.
If a lung tumour is suspected, the patient will be referred to a lung health specialist. To identify the type and stage of the tumour. These specialists for lungs can conduct tests for diagnosis such as a chest X-ray, CT scan, or biopsy.
Lung cancer cure
Treatment options for lung cancer vary depending on the stage and type of the cancer. In some cases, surgery to remove the tumour may be advised. Radiation therapy could also be used to kill cancer cells in the lungs.
Another treatment option for lung cancer is chemotherapy. It entails the use of drugs to kill cancer cells all over the body. Chemotherapy is frequently used in conjunction with surgery or radiation therapy to improve treatment efficacy.
Targeted therapy has recently become a treatment option for lung cancer.
Does second-hand/passive smoke increase the chances of lung cancer?
Long-term second-hand smoke exposure is linked to lung cancer deaths.
A study review published in 2018 found that passive smoking significantly raises the cancer risk in non-smokers, particularly the likelihood of getting breast and lung cancer in women.
A note by LivLong
Smoking is the main cause of lung cancer, accounting for the majority of cases. Lung cancer symptoms include persistent coughing, shortness of breath, chest pain, and fatigue. If you have any of these symptoms, you should see a lung specialist. Lung cancer treatment options may include chemotherapy, surgery, and radiation therapy. While there is no lung cancer cure, early identification, and treatment can increase survival chances. Maintaining your lungs’ health is essential for avoiding lung cancer and some other respiratory illnesses. This includes avoiding smoking cigarettes and other environmental contaminants. If you smoke, quitting is the best thing you can do for your lungs.
How does smoking cause lung cancer in men?
When tobacco is burned, it emits harmful chemicals that can potentially damage the DNA in lung cells. This damage can accumulate over time and result in the development of cancerous cells. Furthermore, smoking depletes the immune function, which makes it harder for the body to fight diseases such as cancer. The more time someone smokes as well as the more cigarettes an individual smoke per day, the more likely they are to develop lung cancer.
What are the symptoms of lung cancer in smokers?
The following are the most frequent symptoms of lung cancer:
• Persistent cough
• Haemoptysis (coughing up blood) or sputum that is rust coloured
• Pain in the chest that is exacerbated by coughing, deep breathing, or laughing
• Appetite loss
• Tiredness or weakness
• Unknown cause of weight loss
• Infections that do not go away or return, including pneumonia and bronchitis
• Shortness of breath
If you have any of these or any other symptoms, you should see a lung specialist, including a pulmonologist.
Can you survive lung cancer from smoking?
The possibility of surviving lung cancer caused by smoking is determined by a number of aspects, including the type and stage of cancer, the person's age, and overall health, in addition to whether cancer has spread to other areas of the body. Overall, the sooner lung cancer is found and addressed, the better the prognosis.
Quitting smoking is also an essential component to improving one's chances of surviving lung cancer.
Do all smokers get lung cancer?
No, not every smoker gets lung cancer; however, smoking is the main cause of lung cancer, accounting for most of the cases. Individuals who smoke cigarettes or are subjected to second-hand (passive) smoke have a higher risk of developing lung cancer, and the risk goes up with the duration and amount of smoking. Some people who have never smoked or been exposed to tobacco smoke can develop lung cancer as a result of certain other factors, including environmental pollutants or genetic predisposition.