Lung Cancer Discussion

Lung Cancer

Lung cancer is a disease that develops due to the multiplication of mutated cells in the lungs. This will begin in either one or both lungs. The cells in the lining of the air passages usually are where abnormal tissue grows. Instead of developing into healthy lung tissue, the cells proliferate to form tumors. Lung cancer will strike anyone at any time. When the nuclei of DNA cells are damaged beyond repair, the condition occurs. Several factors can be blamed for this phenomenon. When people inhale toxic chemical compounds, they develop mutations in their lung tissue. Even brief exposure to harmful substances has been shown to increase cancer risk later in life.

Smoking and Lung Cancer

Smoking is arguably the leading cause of lung cancer. Roughly, 90 percent of all recorded cases of the condition are attributed to the harmful effects of tobacco smoke. Tobacco fumes contain many chemical substances that have been proven to influence the development of cancerous tissue in the human lungs. Revolutionary studies of the link between smoking and development of lung cancer have been published since the year 1950 (Doll, 2000). From this time, the relationship between smoke and several types of cancer have been established. Cigarette smoke contains more than 60 known carcinogenic substances. The most significant of these compounds include aromatic amines, aromatic hydrocarbons, ethylene oxide, and benzene. These substances are noted for their high levels of toxicity and concentration. Tobacco smoke, the habit of smoking, second-hand smoke, and smokeless tobacco are categorized by the International Agency for Research on Cancer as a group 1 carcinogen toxin that is harmful to humans. Tobacco was first designated as a group 1 carcinogen in the year 1986 by the IARC. Since that time, the agency has also published its findings on the risks of smokeless tobacco and updated evidence for the connection between cancer and tobacco use.

Radon Exposure and Lung Cancer

Another major cause of lung cancer is radon exposure (Planinić et al., 2003). This is a naturally occurring radioactive gas derived from the decomposition of uranium in naturally occurring rocks, such as phosphate, granite, limestone, and shale. The gas is invisible, tasteless, and odorless. Its presence can only be tested using special apparatus. It is estimated that radon exposure results in 21,000 deaths due to lung cancer each year. Ten to twenty-five percent of people in this statistic are non-smokers. Lung cancer usually develops between five and twenty-five years after the exposure. The combination of radon exposure and smoking dramatically increases the risks of lung cancer. According to research published by the American Environmental Protection Agency, if about one thousand smokers were subjected to a radon level of PCI/l over a lifetime, more than sixty of them would eventually develop lung cancer (Field et al., 2000).

Other Risk Factors

Radon exposure can be caused by building materials such as magmatic rocks rich in silicone, for example, granite, particularly the pink, purple, and red varieties, waste products from gypsum, concrete, cement, and pumice. Alcohol use is also a risk factor for the development of lung cancer. The World Health Organization has stated that the harmful use of alcohol causes cancer which results in the deaths of roughly 350,000 individuals around the world every year. The risk of developing cancer increases with the amount of alcohol ingested, though the effects of alcohol consumption differ for men and women. Research also points to the fact that individuals who are more physically active are at a generally lower risk of developing cancer than those who live typically passive lives.

Prevention and Control

Although lung cancer is not entirely preventable, the chances that it will occur can be limited through control of its perceived risk factors. Some of these factors, like genetic predisposition, are not controllable. However, environmental and social factors, such as lifestyle and exposure to toxic agents, can be controlled.

As a method of preventing the occurrence of cancer, tobacco addiction treatment is a rarely utilized alternative. Services aimed at advocating and aiding the cessation of smoking can help addicts desist from the practice. The education of patients on the benefits of cessation would be greatly beneficial in changing the mindsets of patients who are unwilling to quit, a condition which occurs mostly because of lack of confidence. A recent study of cessation based on a thoracic oncology program concluded that patients with low levels of confidence develop increased levels of courage after enrolling in cessation education programs (CDC, 2009). Dietary factors are believed to lead to about 30 percent of cancer occurrences in the industrialized world. This makes the diet one of the most significant preventable factors in the development of cancer. This statistic is estimated to be 20 percent in developing regions but is expected to increase the dietary risks as these societies change. The incidence of cancer is observed to change as societies develop and acquire different dietary customs; this shows the impact of a diet on the occurrence of cancer (Takezaki et al., 2003).

Evidence-driven intervention programs at the state level are sustainable, unbiased, and have been proven to reduce the rates of cigarette smoking, therefore, effectively reducing the occurrence of lung cancer. A well-organized tobacco control program coordinated at the state level typically involves the establishment of smoke-free legislation and the reinforcement of healthy habits. This approach incorporates clinical, economic, and regulatory methods of control. Research has proven the efficacy of legislation in the effort to protect members of the public from indirect exposure to cigarette smoke, to encourage cessation of smoking, and to discourage individuals from taking up the habit. The plan involves strategies such as increasing the cost of products derived from tobacco, banning smoking in all indoor areas, limiting the access minors have to tobacco products, and providing insurance services for approved tobacco addiction treatments. Furthermore, research has revealed that intervention efforts with multiple components that combine programs and policies to redirect social systems, perspectives, and habits are very effective.

To prevent radon exposure, the concentration of the gas in homes should be assessed and control measures should be taken if it is discovered that the concentrations are above the acceptable limit. Radon in a house can be reduced by a number of methods. The most reliable method for ensuring that the gas radon is removed from a particular area in the house is considered to be active sub-slab suction, which is also called sub-slab depressurization. This method involves the insertion of suction pipes through the floor into the soil or rock beneath. They may also be inserted below the concrete slab from the exterior of the house. After this process, a fan is used to generate air currents which draw the radon from beneath through the pipes that were inserted into the slab. Radon can also be eliminated from water sources through treatment mechanisms at the point of entry. This removes the radon from the water supply before it enters the home by use of granular activated carbon filters.


Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). (2009). Cigarette smoking among adults and trends in smoking cessation – United States, 2008. Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report, 58(44), 1227.

Doll, R. (2000). Smoking and lung cancer. American Journal of Respiratory and Critical Care Medicine, 162(1), 4-6.

Field, R. W., Steck, D. J., Smith, B. J., Brus, C. P., Fisher, E. L., Neuberger, J. S., … & Lynch, C. F. (2000). Residential radon gas exposure and lung cancer the Iowa radon lung cancer study. American Journal of Epidemiology, 151(11), 1091-1102.

Planinić, J., Faj, D., Vuković, B., Faj, Z., Radolić, V., & Suveljak, B. (2003). Radon exposure and lung cancer. Journal of Radioanalytical and Nuclear Chemistry, 256(2), 349-352.

Takezaki, T., Inoue, M., Kataoka, H., Ikeda, S., Yoshida, M., Ohashi, Y., … & Tominaga, S. (2003). Diet and lung cancer risk from a 14-year population-based prospective study in Japan: With special reference to fish consumption. Nutrition and Cancer, 45(2), 160-167.

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