When people hear “lung cancer,” they might automatically connect it with smoking tobacco. But anyone can get lung cancer, and not everyone who develops lung cancer has a history of smoking. Research that’s focused on people who never smoked may inform how doctors check for risk factors of lung cancer other than smoking, such as exposure to secondhand smoke, occupational exposures, exposures to radon and/or air pollution, and genetic factors.
Researchers from the American Cancer Society (Ahmedin Jemal, DVM, PhD, and Stacey Fedewa, PhD) and the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) published results of a study of people in the United States with lung cancer who never smoked. Previous studies were based on small population sizes from hospital data, but this study had a much larger number of people to study, as it used population-based data from multiple state cancer registries.
Here’s an overview of their findings.
People Who Currently Smoke or Formerly Smoked (collectively known as “ever smokers”)
People Who Never Smoked (known as “never smokers”)
Data were only included for states and years where the status of cigarette use was “unknown” for less than 15% of cases: Alaska, Colorado, Florida, Idaho, Louisiana, North Carolina, and Rhode Island.