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Lung Cancer in "Never-Smokers" - Page 2

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Committee participant William Pao, M.D., associate professor at the Vanderbilt-Ingram Cancer Center in Nashville, TN, has established a repository of tissue specimen samples from non-smokers with lung cancer as a first step in such a study.

According to the experts, lung cancer in never-smokers usually presents at an advanced stage with non-specific symptoms like cough and chest pain. Rudin says it is often incorrectly treated as a respiratory illness with antibiotics and asthma medications. Doctors rarely suspect lung cancer since these patients have no smoking history, he adds.

"Besides second-hand smoke and radon exposure, we still have a gap of knowledge in explaining the causes of lung cancer in never-smokers," says Jonathan Samet, M.D., professor and Flora L. Thornton Chair of the Department of Preventive Medicine at the University of Southern California and formerly of the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health.

"Lung cancer in non-smokers

accounts for 10 to 15 percent

of lung cancer cases in the US..."

Lung cancer in non-smokers accounts for 10 to 15 percent of lung cancer cases in the United States, according to the guide, which amounts to approximately 20,000 Americans annually. Survival rates are poor for most people with any kind of lung cancer.

Rudin says that lung cancer in never-smokers tends to occur more often in women and in certain populations in East Asia. This may be due to women's increased exposure to indoor pollutants caused by cooking oils and wood-burning stoves.

The experts also recommend a closer look at genetic trends in populations with early-age onset of the disease.

The two-day workshop and development of the guide were funded by the Flight Attendant Medical Research Institute (FAMRI). As part of a settlement with the American tobacco industry, flight attendants, who historically have been exposed to second-hand smoke in airplane cabins, won $300 million to create FAMRI, which funds research on the early detection and treatment of diseases associated with tobacco-smoke exposure.

In addition to Rudin, Samet and Pao, participants included Erika Avila-Tang and James G. Herman from Johns Hopkins; Curtis C. Harris and Susan Olivo-Marston from the National Cancer Institute; Fred R. Hirsch from the University of Colorado; Ann G. Schwartz from Wayne State University, Kirsi H. Vahakangas from the University of Kuopio; Paolo Boffetta from the International Agency for Research on Cancer; and Lindsay M. Hannan and Michael J. Thun from the American Cancer Society.

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