Lung cancer among non-smoking women is on the rise due to pollution and exposure to oil fumes in the kitchen, Taichung-based Dai Fang-chuan (戴芳銓) said on Tuesday.
The percentage of women with lung adenocarcinoma is abnormally high and many do not smoke, the doctor of internal thoracic medicine at Asia University Hospital said.
There are two main types of lung cancer, small cell and non-small cell, with 85 percent of lung cancer cases falling into the latter category, he said.
Photo: Wang Hsiu-ting, Taipei Times
Lung adenocarcinoma, the most common sub-type of non-small cell lung cancer, is prevalent among non-smokers and women, he said, adding that its relatively slow growth and metastasis makes detection difficult during the early stages.
A woman surnamed Chang (張), 45, is undergoing treatment at the hospital for stage four cancer, despite not being a smoker or drinker and leading a healthy lifestyle, he said.
Initially, Chang’s doctors assumed her complaints of stiffness and pain in the neck were symptoms of common muscle strains, for which painkillers and muscle relaxants were prescribed, he said.
After the symptoms continued unbated for three or four days, oncologists at Asia University Hospital became involved, and their computerized tomography scan showed that the lymph nodes in her left shoulder were enlarged, he said.
Fearing cancer, the medical team ordered X-rays that revealed a 2cm shadow in the lower portion of the left lung. Biopsies confirmed that the growth was malignant, he said.
Doctors at the hospital believe Chang’s late-stage cancer was caused either by Taichung’s air quality, which has been on the decline, or by oil fumes in her poorly ventilated kitchen, he said.
Viral inflammation of the neck lymph nodes rarely exceed 2cm in diameter and hard lumps exceeding that size could be lymphatic tumors, of which 80 percent are due to metastasized lung, throat, mouth or nasal cancer, he said.
To minimize lung cancer risk, people should avoid exposure to carcinogens — which could occur at industrial workplaces that utilize asbestos or gasoline — reduce the use of cooking oil, improve kitchen ventilation and be mindful of the air quality index, he said.
Additionally, eating carotene-rich vegetables and exercising regularly are effective ways to strengthen the body’s natural defenses against cancer, he said.
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