Fri, Jan 18, 2019 - Page 4 News List

Lung cancer cases mostly non-smokers, doctor says

By Lin Hui-chin  /  Staff reporter

A doctor operates a computed tomography machine as he prepares to examine a woman in Taipei on Tuesday.

Photo courtesy of Shin Kong Wu Ho-su Memorial Hospital

Shin Kong Wu Ho-su Memorial Hospital found that the vast majority of women diagnosed with lung cancer from June 2007 to December 2017 were non-smokers.

Of the 3,1838 people that had computed tomography (CT) scans over the period, 267 were diagnosed with lung cancer — the most deadly cancer for Taiwanese — 83.5 percent of whom did not smoke, Department of General Medicine director Hsu Pei-sung (徐培崧) said.

Apart from smoking, genetics and chronic pulmonary diseases, other factors that might lead to lung cancer include “indoor air pollutants,” such as second-hand smoke, incense and cooking fumes, Hsu said.

In recent years, there have been incidents of people diagnosed with lung cancer after reporting coughing for a couple of weeks, even though they exercised and ate well, he said, adding that most of them were women.

Many of them were stunned to learn that they had lung cancer, he said.

Airborne particulates — such as PM2.5, particulate matter measuring up to 2.5 micrometers in diameter — have been classified by the WHO and the International Agency for Research on Cancer as a “Group 1” carcinogen, and they could increase the likelihood of contracting lung cancer and respiratory diseases, he said.

Citing research conducted by Academia Sinica, Hsu said that PM2.5 concentrations are normally 2,000 to 13,000 micrograms per cubic meter (mg/m3) of air for second-hand smoke; 1,250 to 1,750mg/m3 for cooking without using a range hood; 75 to 700mg/m3 for burning incense; and 70 to 500mg/m3 at restaurants, suggesting that PM2.5 is not solely an outdoor risk factor.

Pack-a-day smokers who are at least 40 years old and have smoked for 20 years; people who have been smoking about 10 cigarettes a day for 40 years; those who are routinely exposed to asbestos; or those who have chronic pulmonary diseases should consider making an appointment for a CT scan and have regular checkups for three years before it is safe for them to extend the time between checkups, he said.

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