Non-Smokers & Lung Cancer

Non-Smokers & Lung Cancer

Most people think of cigarettes and smoking when they hear ‘lung cancer,’ and they’re not wrong. Both habits can make a huge impact on your health. However, not everyone with a diagnosis smokes. In fact, between 10 and 20 percent of documented cases are non-smokers who have never smoked or have smoked fewer than 100 cigarettes. Know the signs and whether you’re at risk!

Non-Smoking Causes 

Several external factors can contribute to developing lung cancer, not just smoking cigarettes. One well-known example is secondhand smoke. You may not be the one smoking, but you’re still inhaling the chemicals. Some lesser-known causes include: 

  • Radon
  • Air Pollution 
  • Family History
  • Asbestos 

Radon is a naturally occurring gas and produces from things like rock and soil breaking down over time. This gas is also odorless and colorless. Radon is common and found throughout the world, and it’s virtually harmless outside. However, if your home or business has high levels of radon, it can be dangerous.

Air Pollution

Air pollution is a broad term and can cover anything from dust to harmful chemicals and gases in the air. Highly populated areas tend to have the highest levels of air pollution. Human behaviors such as burning coal and driving vehicles are large contributors. The gases coming from pollutants like coal and diesel are dangerous and can contribute to your risk level.

Family History 

If you have a known family history of lung cancer, you are at high risk and should seek professional medical advice. Your risk can increase significantly if you have a close relative diagnosed. 


Asbestos is most commonly found in older buildings and structures. It’s not used as often today because of its toxic and dangerous properties. Exposure can cause serious health issues, such as lung cancer. You are most at risk if you are in hard labor jobs (construction, mining, military service, firefighting, etc). 

Signs of Lung Cancer

If you are at high risk for lung cancer or are concerned, here are some signs you should monitor: 

  • A persistent cough lasting over a week
  • Problems catching your breath and wheezing
  • Any pains near your chest, shoulders and back
  • Developing a hoarse voice
  • Significant weight loss 

Seek professional medical attention if you are considered at a high risk of developing lung cancer or are exhibiting symptoms. If you’d like help quitting smoking, reach out to a CCMH provider! You can use Comanche County Memorial Hospital’s Find A Provider tool to choose the right physician for you. 

For cancer care, visit the Cancer Centers of Southwest Oklahoma and find Cancer Care Physicians here:  


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