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Lung Cancer Incidence in Never Smokers

Author(s): Christelle Clément-Duchêne | Heather Wakelee

Journal: European Journal of Clinical & Medical Oncology
ISSN 1759-8958

Volume: 2;
Issue: 2;
Start page: 53;
Date: 2010;
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Keywords: lung cancer | never smokers | epidermal growth factor receptor (EGFR) mutations | adenocarcinoma | second hand smoke exposure

Although lung cancer is predominantly caused by tobacco consumption, lung cancer among never smokers is an important health problem that is rapidly gaining recognition. The main causes of lung cancer in never smokers are still unknown, but second hand smoke exposure, radon exposure, occupational or environmental exposures, and viruses have been implicated. Lung cancer in never smokers has specific epidemiological and clinical characteristics; specifically, the disease occurs more frequently in women, particularly of Asian descent, and the main histology is adenocarcinoma. Specific molecular characteristics of the disease, compared with lung cancer in smokers, have also been identified including mutations in epidermal growth factor receptor (EGFR), EML4-ALK, K-ras, p53, and certain chromosomal abnormalities. Never smokers with lung cancer also have a better response to many treatments and a better survival than smokers. All these characteristics suggest that lung cancer in never smokers is distinct from lung cancer in smokers. This article will review the epidemiological and molecular findings, and the possible risk factors for lung cancer in never smokers.

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