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    Lung Cancer In Non-Smokers

    By Charlotte Gerber     

    I donít smoke but that doesnít mean that I will never get lung cancer. If that sounds improbable, consider the case of Dana Reeve, widow of ĎSupermaní actor Christopher Reeve. Dana had never smoked yet she died of lung cancer on March 8, 2006. Until then, many people believed that only smokers or those or were exposed to second hand smoked were at risk for this deadly disease. According to the American Cancer Society, approximately 15,000 people who are lifelong non-smokers die each year of lung cancer.

    Risk Factors

    We now know that there are many more risk factors for lung cancer other than just smoking and second hand smoke. According to the National Cancer Institute, many more risk factors exist and include the following:

    Radon Asbestos Pollution Lung Diseases such as Tuberculosis History of Lung Cancer

    In the case of Dana Reeve, it is believed that pollution may have played a part because the other risk factors werenít prevalent. Dana hadnít smoked before and she lived in a non-smoking household. Research on pollution as a factor in lung cancer is currently ongoing.


    There are many symptoms that are indicative of lung cancer. Symptoms include a persistent cough or chest pain, unexpected weight loss, appetite loss, swelling of the face and neck, coughing up blood, persistent fatigue and shortness of breath. Since lung cancer can spread rapidly to the brain or bones it is important to see a physician immediately if you experience any of these symptoms. Diagnosing Lung Cancer

    There are many ways for physicians to diagnose the existence of lung cancer in patients. A typical diagnostic procedure is the CAT scan. A CAT or CT scan is used to diagnose a variety of cancers and can take detailed pictures of the inside of the body. An MRI can also give a physician a detailed picture of areas within your body.

    Radionuclide scanning is also frequently used to help detect abnormal areas in the body. In this test, a patient swallows a mildly radioactive solution. The radioactive substance travels and gravitates in areas where cancerous cells exist. A scanner is used to measure levels of radioactivity in organs; a high level of radioactivity may reveal cancerous growths. Another form of radionuclide scanning is used to identify bone cancer. In this diagnostic procedure, the radioactive substance is injected in a vein and it gravitates to abnormal bone growths. A scanner is used to identify these radioactive areas and records them on x-ray film.

    Some patients are tested for cancer in the lymph nodes by a procedure called a mediastinoscopy or mediastinotomy. In a mediastinoscopy, an incision is made in the chest and a mediastinoscope is used to view and sometimes remove a piece of tissue for study. The mediastinotomy is a similar procedure but the incision is made in the patientís neck for the procedure.


    If you are diagnosed with lung cancer there is hope. Not everyone who is diagnosed with lung cancer dies from it. Treatment options include surgery, chemotherapy, radiation therapy and laser therapy and many physicians work with homeopathic remedies along with traditional treatments at the request of their patients.

    The best way to beat this disease is to catch it early. A yearly physical can help your physician catch many diseases and treat them before they become life threatening. This year, when you make an appointment for your child to have their school physical, make an appointment for yourself as well. The old adage Ďan ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cureí is as true today as it was in days past.

    Written by Charlotte GerberRate this article:

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