Lung Cancer Becoming More Common In Non-Smokers, Canadian Doctors Say

Daniel McCall

Lung cancer remains the number one cause of cancer-related deaths in Canada, but new data suggests that death rates for lung cancer, as well as the other major cancers, are actually starting to decline.

Unfortunately, the good news is mostly overshadowed by the bad. Doctors in Canada have also observed that lung cancer in women who have never smoked has become more and more common over the past several years, and the disturbing trend has doctors confused.

“In cancer centers, it certainly seems that we are seeing more lung cancer, in particularly younger women and in people who have never smoked,” Dr. Natasha Leighl of Toronto’s Princess Margaret Hospital told CTV.

Most of the lung cancer cases in non-smokers can be attributed to secondhand smoke, but the increasing number of lung cancer cases in women has doctors looking elsewhere for answers. Other possible causes could include pollution, or even genetics.

“What makes lung cancer in never smokers worrisome is we don’t know how to cut down that risk, who we should screen, or who we should watch to make that diagnosis earlier,” Dr. Leighl added.

There is a bit more good news to go along with the bad, however. CTV reports that doctors are employing new treatments that appear to be effective in patients–namely women–who have lung cancer, but have never smoked before.

That being said, doctors are being urged not to ignore the common signs of lung cancer in patients who have never smoked before. Lung cancer symptoms in non-smokers are generally passed off as other diseases or illnesses, but that may need to change.