Lung cancer is the leading cause of death related to cancer in both men and women. The number of cases saw a dramatic increase throughout history. Most notably beginning in the early 1900’s following the rise and popularity of tobacco use. It is common knowledge that tobacco use and cigarette smoking is a huge risk factor in the development of the disease. Modern research shows that about 90% of cases can be attributed to cigarette smoking and tobacco use.
The risk is not limited to smokers, however, as passive smokers are also in danger of developing lung cancer. Recent studies among nonsmokers conclude that the risk of getting the disease is increased by about 24% in those who live in close proximity to active smokers compared to nonsmokers who are not periodically exposed to passive smoke.
The lungs are also a common site of metastasis. Many cancer patients develop lung cancer as a result of cancer cells being dispersed or metastasized from another part of the body to the lungs. This means that those who have a history of cancer in another part of the body, even though they are not exposed to environmental risk factors may also develop the disease.
There are many other causes that put anyone at risk for developing this type of cancer. These include exposure to asbestos fibers, radon gas and air pollutants.
Generally, the prognosis for lung cancer is poor. The survival rate is low because there are no distinct early signs that are associated with the disease. In fact, some patients do not develop symptoms until the disease progresses into later stages that by the time they seek consultation, extensive and irreversible damage to the lungs have already occurred. Cessation of smoking and avoiding exposure to second-hand smoke is still the single best preventive measure that we can employ.