What Causes Lung Cancer?

Lung cancer is the second most common cancer in the United States—affecting nearly 228,000 people each year. Though lung cancer is often considered a smoker’s disease, more than twenty-five percent of those affected are non-smokers. While it’s true that smoking is associated with an increased risk of lung cancer, there are certain factors that can put non-smokers at risk.

Three causes of lung cancer for non-smokers

Here are a few alternative causes that can put non-smokers at an increased risk for lung cancer:

  • Passive smoking
    Though you may not be a smoker, if you are around those who smoke regularly you have a 25 percent higher risk of developing lung cancer. Unfortunately, second-hand smoke is responsible for more than 3,000 U.S. deaths each year.
  • Air pollution
    Carcinogens are found in both indoor and outdoor air pollution. Things like diesel fumes and industrial or agricultural emissions are a leading cause of lung cancer. Air pollution is connected to more than 220,000 lung cancer fatalities worldwide each year.
  • Radon gas
    The leading cause of lung cancer for non-smokers is exposure to radon gas. Radon is a naturally occurring, cancer-causing radioactive gas that is often found in rock, soil and surface water and can be found in 1 out of every 15 homes in the U.S.

Signs and symptoms of lung cancer

Approximately 25 percent of people who have lung cancer will not have any symptoms before they’re diagnosed. Unfortunately, by the time a person exhibits signs or symptoms of lung cancer, it has often progressed beyond stage 1. Here are the most common signs and symptoms of lung cancer:

  • A cough that does not go away, or gets worse (not associated with a respiratory infection)
  • Coughing up blood, or rust-colored phlegm
  • Chest pain that worsens with deep breathing, coughing, sneezing or laughing
  • Hoarseness
  • Weight loss and loss of appetite
  • Shortness of breath or wheezing (not associated with asthma or another infection)
  • Fatigue

For compassionate, skilled lung cancer treatment in Tinley Park, Homewood, Palos Heights and the greater Chicago area, trust the board-certified oncologists at Alpha Med Physicians Group. We provide the highest-quality care and leading edge treatment for people with cancer. Contact us at 708-928-5040 or use our easy online form to schedule an appointment.