Lung cancer symptoms warning – 12 common signs in people that have never smoked a cigarette

By Staff 6 Min Read

It is still possible to develop lung cancer symptoms even if you don’t smoke, and experts say there are still 14% of people in the UK who have the condition who have never smoked

Experts have issued a lung cancer symptoms warning, giving the 12 common signs among people who have never smoked.

If you’re a smoker, the chances of you developing the disease are much stronger. But it is still possible to develop lung cancer even if you don’t smoke. And experts from Cancer Research UK said there were still 14% of people in the UK with the condition who have never smoked.

The charity warned: “To put this into perspective, if lung cancer in people who have never smoked was a separate disease, it would be the eighth most prevalent cause of cancer-related death.”

Someone who hasn’t smoked and develops the disease might be considered differently to a smoker because it has different molecular and biological characteristics and reacts differently to treatment.

What are non-smoker lung cancer symptoms?

  1. A cough that doesn’t go away or gets worse over time
  2. Coughing up blood
  3. Chest pain or discomfort
  4. Trouble breathing
  5. Wheezing
  6. Hoarseness
  7. Loss of appetite
  8. Weight loss for no reason
  9. Fatigue
  10. Trouble swallowing
  11. Swelling in the face and/or the neck
  12. Recurrent lung infections, including pneumonia

Oncologists at Yale Medicine said someone with lung cancer who is not a smoker may have a different set of symptoms.

Anne Chiang, a thoracic medical oncologist and chief network officer its Smilow Cancer Hospital said: “We used to think all lung cancers were the same, but now we understand that there are different kinds.

“The good news is that the types of lung cancer that non-smokers tend to get are usually driven by a molecular change or mutation that can be detected in the tumour, and there are drugs and therapeutics available for them.”

The majority of non-smokers have a type known as adenocarcinoma, which begins in the outer areas of the lungs and inhabit mucus-producing cells in small airways known as bronchioles.

But Yale oncologists said those who do smoke develop a type of non-small cell lung cancer squamous cell carcinoma

Thoracic surgeon says Daniel Boffa says it has different shape to other lung cancer types. He said: “If you are a smoker, you can think of your lung as a bag of white marbles, and cancer is like putting a black marble in there.

“The type of cancer a nonsmoker gets is more like putting in black sand. Instead of a spot or a lump, it’s more like a hazy area. It’s more diffuse.”

If you’re a non-smoker, your lung cancer is also likely to grow more slowly. People who have had close contact with asbestos also have a higher risk of getting lung cancer, Macmillan said.

Experts from Yale also said working with heavy metals and diesel exhaust can also bring on the condition if people are exposed to it at work.

In parts of the UK, a natural gas called radon can be transferred from the soil into the foundations of buildings. High levels of exposure to radon is not common, but it can increase the risk of lung cancer; especially in those who smoke.

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