Jay M. Lee (Surgical Director, Thoracic Oncology Program, UCLA) gives expert video advice on: What ethnicity has the highest incidence of lung cancer?; Can non-smokers get lung cancer?; Is the mortality rate high for those diagnosed with lung cancer? and more...
What is 'lung cancer'?
Lung cancer is a malignancy or a neoplasm of the lung tissue itself. Lung cancer can present in the lung tissue itself or in the airway defining it as an endobronchial lesion. It's thought that lung cancer arises from cells that line the airway called the bronchus.
How common is lung cancer?
Lung cancer is estimated to cause approximately 200,000 new cases in the year 2007 in the United States. It ranks as the second most common cancer amongst men and women. In men, prostate cancer is the most common cancer, and in women, breast cancer is the most common.
What causes lung cancer?
There are a multitude of causes for lung cancer, but by far the most common cause is smoking. And this results in 90% of the lung cancer causes. The other things that will lead to lung cancer include radon exposure, radon is a tasteless invisible gas that exists in the soil and rocks and it percolates into homes and buildings. Radon exposure will cause about 20,000 lung cancer deaths per year. Secondhand smoke will lead to about 3,000 cases of lung cancer. And finally, other causes for lung cancer include work related carcinogens such as asbestos exposure. Asbestos is a mineral that occurs naturally as a fiber but it is inhaled it will lead to carcinogenesis in the form of mesothelioma as well as lung cancer.
What ethnicity has the highest incidence of lung cancer?
According to the Centres for Disease Control in the NCI, there's a higher incidence of lung cancer among African American males relative to Caucasian males, and that increased incidence is over 50%. In women, there are really no differences in the incidence between the African Americans and Caucasians.
Can non-smokers get lung cancer?
Non-smokers can certainly get lung cancer because there are other causes for lung cancer besides smoking. These things would include radon exposure, which is a radioactive gas which can lead to increasing the risk for lung cancer, work related carcinogens like asbestos exposure, air pollution, there are various carcinogens that are present with combustion of diesel and fossil fuels, and finally some chronic lung diseases such as tuberculosis can enhance the risk for lung cancer.
How common is radon exposure in America?
The Environmental Protection Agency reports that one in every fifteen homes and buildings have elevated radon levels that are not acceptable. There are kits that are available out there to measure these radon levels.
Are instances of lung cancer equal in men and women?
There is a higher incidence of lung cancer in men, compared to women. In every 100,000 men there are approximately 70 to 80 lung cancer cases. Comparatively, in women there are approximately 50 lung cancer cases for every 100,000 women. So the incidence is higher amongst men.
What is the most common myth about lung cancer?
A common myth for lung cancer would be "is there a higher risk of acquiring lung cancer from air pollution compared to smoking?" This is certainly false. The greatest risk for lung cancer comes from smoking related problems and the risk from air pollution is certainly present, but it's far less than from smoking.
Which kinds of doctors deal with lung cancer?
Lung cancer is dealt with by a number of physicians and initially this may be detected or diagnosed by your primary care physician, but once the diagnosis or suspicion for lung cancer is made, then multiple other physicians will be involved. These may include thoracic surgeons, medical and radiation oncologists, pulmonary physicians, or radiologists, so there's an entire team approach to the management of lung cancer.
Is the mortality rate high for those diagnosed with lung cancer?
The mortality for lung cancer is the highest amongst all cancers. Lung cancer will cause approximately one hundred and sixty thousand deaths per year, and it is the leading cause of cancer-related mortality. This is higher than all three of the next common cancers combined. That would include colon cancer, breast, and prostate cancer together. Still, lung cancer has the highest incidents of mortality.