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The Truth About Non-Smokers and Lung Cancer

Lung cancer has been around for centuries, and it is a leading cause of death worldwide. Many people believe that smoking cigarettes is the only way to develop lung cancer, but this couldn't be further from the truth. In fact, lung cancer can affect non-smokers too.


Non-Smokers and Lung Cancer

Lung cancer in non-smokers is often referred to as "involuntary smoking" or "second hand smoke." It occurs when individuals breathe in smoke from tobacco products or other environmental factors such as pollution, radiation or exposure to asbestos. According to the American Cancer Society, approximately 10-15% of lung cancer cases occur in non-smokers.

Risk Factors for Non-Smokers

Non-smokers who get lung cancer can have a higher risk if they are exposed regularly to second hand smoke or high levels of air pollution. Individuals who have never smoked but work in industries that expose them to carcinogens such as asbestos or air pollution may also be at a higher risk. Additionally, genetics, radon exposure, and a family history of lung cancer can all increase a non-smoker's chance of developing lung cancer.

Symptoms of Lung Cancer in Non-Smokers

The signs and symptoms of lung cancer in non-smokers are similar to those in smokers. These symptoms include persistent cough, chest pain, fatigue, rapid weight loss, difficulty breathing, and coughing up blood. If you experience any of these symptoms, it is essential to see your doctor immediately.

Prevention of Lung Cancer in Non-Smokers

The best way for non-smokers to prevent lung cancer is to avoid second hand smoke and exposure to harmful pollutants. When possible, limit time spent in smoggy or dusty areas, and if you work in an industry with carcinogenic materials, be sure to follow safety protocols. Individuals should also have their homes tested for radon levels and, if necessary, install a radon mitigation system.

Treatment for Non-Smokers with Lung Cancer

Non-smokers who are diagnosed with lung cancer have similar treatment options to smokers. These options include surgery, chemotherapy, radiation therapy, targeted therapy, and immunotherapy. Treatment is often dependent on the stage of cancer and the overall health of an individual.


In conclusion, lung cancer does not discriminate based on whether an individual smokes or not. Non-smokers can still develop lung cancer, and it is essential to know the factors that can increase the risk for non-smokers. It is also important to know the signs and symptoms of lung cancer, as early detection improves the chances of a positive outcome. By avoiding carcinogens and seeking treatment as soon as possible, non-smokers can reduce their risk of developing lung cancer. To keep healthy, knowledge is power.