Table of Contents
- Lung cancer facts
- What is lung cancer?
- How common is lung cancer?
- What are the causes and risk factors for lung cancer?
- What causes lung cancer? (Part 2)
- What causes lung cancer? (Part 3)
- What are the types of lung cancer?
- What are lung cancer symptoms and signs?
- What specialists treat lung cancer?
- How do health-care professionals diagnose lung cancer?
- How do health-care professionals diagnose lung cancer? (Continued)
- How do health-care professionals determine lung cancer staging?
- What is the treatment for lung cancer?
- What is the treatment for lung cancer? (Part 2)
- What is the treatment for lung cancer? (Part 3)
- What is the prognosis and life expectancy of lung cancer?
- Is it possible to prevent lung cancer?
What causes lung cancer? (Part 2)
Exposure to asbestos fibers
Asbestos fibers are silicate fibers that can persist for a lifetime in lung tissue following exposure to asbestos. The workplace was a common source of exposure to asbestos fibers, as asbestos was widely used in the past as both thermal and acoustic insulation. Today, asbestos use is limited or banned in many countries, including the U.S. Both lung cancer and mesothelioma (cancer of the pleura of the lung as well as of the lining of the abdominal cavity called the peritoneum) are associated with exposure to asbestos. Cigarette smoking drastically increases the chance of developing an asbestos-related lung cancer in workers exposed to asbestos; asbestos workers who do not smoke have a fivefold greater risk of developing lung cancer than nonsmokers, but asbestos workers who smoke have a risk that is fifty- to ninety-fold greater than nonsmokers.
Exposure to radon gas
Radon gas is a natural radioactive gas that is a natural decay product of uranium that emits a type of ionizing radiation. Radon gas is a known cause of lung cancer, with an estimated 12% of lung-cancer deaths attributable to radon gas, or about 21,000 lung-cancer-related deaths annually in the U.S., making radon the second leading cause of lung cancer in the U.S. after smoking. As with asbestos exposure, concomitant smoking greatly increases the risk of lung cancer with radon exposure. Radon gas can travel up through soil and enter homes through gaps in the foundation, pipes, drains, or other openings. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency estimates that one out of every 15 homes in the U.S. contains dangerous levels of radon gas. Radon gas is invisible and odorless, but it can be detected with simple test kits.