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Cancer Risk Assessment for Lung Cancer

Cancer can be categorized as abnormal growth of cells in a particular location in the body. These cells begin to form tumours, due to accumulation of cells. Tumours could be benign or cancerous. When cancer begins within the lungs or cancerous cell migrate from other area of the body to lungs, it is called lung cancer.

Lung cancer is broadly of two types: small cell and non-small cell. Non-small cell cancers are more common than the former type, and each cancer is treated differently.

Cancer risk assessment for lung cancer is done in particular patients – this can predict the occurrence of cancer depending on their lung condition, genetics, family history, etc. Making use of modern advances such as genetic testing for cancer risk is optimal.

Risk Factors of Lung Cancers

Anyone can be affected by lung cancer, however, there are some risk factors that can increase this chance. Following is a brief list:

  • Smoking
  • Second-hand smoking
  • Exposure to certain chemical chemicals such as asbestos, arsenic, soot, tar, etc.
  • Family history of lung cancer
  • Genetic factors
  • Being exposed to radiation
  • Air pollution
  • HIV infection

Most of the lung cancers occur in smokers. But it is not uncommon for the cancer to occur in people who don’t smoke.

Common Genes Responsible for Lung Cancers

Several genes are responsible for the occurrence of lung cancer. Some of the most common genes associated with lung cancer are listed below:

  • TP53
  • EGFR
  • KRAS

Genetic alterations in the above genes cause lung cancer.

Assessment of Lung Cancer Risk

Assessment of lung cancer risk is recommended to anybody who has any of the risk factors mentioned above. The following tests can be performed to assess the cancer risk in a vulnerable person:

  1. Detailed family history analysis
  2. Genetic tests for any gene alterations
  3. Personal history
  4. Recommended screening test for lung cancer: low-dose computed tomography (also called low-dose CT scan or LDCT)

Who should be screened?

This assessment is specific for people who –

  • Have a 20 pack-year* or more smoking history,
  • Is currently smoking now or have quit within the past 15 years,
  • Are between the age 50-80 years

*A pack-year is smoking an average of one pack of cigarettes per day for one year.

Anyone undergoing cancer risk assessment should undergo proper counselling from healthcare providers and experts.

Dizziness or lightheadedness, or unsteadiness

Nausea

Vomiting

Headache

FAQ's :

Some individuals are considered as candidates for risk assessment of lung cancer, if they have a personal or family history cancer.

Yes, this is possible. Recent advances in science – such as using biomarkers can help in understanding the risk of lung cancer occurrence.

Genetic counselling enables an individual to know if their genes have a role to play in their poor lung condition and cancer. It can help navigate the family history and other patterns for lung cancer occurrence.

Even though smoking is the major cause of lung cancer, constituting of 80-90% of all lung cancers, heredity may play a role in some scenarios. An estimate of about 8% genetic predisposition is responsible.

Some individuals acquire gene changes related to lung cancer in their lifetime. Acquired gene changes in certain genes such as RB1 tumor suppressor gene, are thought to be important in the development of small cell lung cancer (SCLC).

References:

  1. What Is Lung Cancer? Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. https://www.cdc.gov/cancer/lung/basic_info/what-is-lung-cancer.htm Accessed on May 30, 2022
  1. Lung Cancer. Medline Plus. https://medlineplus.gov/lungcancer.html Accessed on May 30, 2022
  1. Lung cancer. Mayo Clinic. https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/lung-cancer/symptoms-causes/syc-20374620 Accessed on May 30, 2022
  1. Lung Cancer. Cedars- Sinai. https://www.cedars-sinai.org/health-library/risk-assessments/lung-cancer-risk-assessment.html Accessed on May 30, 2022
  1. Should You Get Genetic Testing for Cancer Risk? American Cancer Society. https://www.cancer.org/latest-news/should-you-get-genetic-testing-for-cancer-risk.html Accessed on May 30, 2022
  1. Who Should Be Screened for Lung Cancer? Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. https://www.cdc.gov/cancer/lung/basic_info/screening.htm Accessed on May 30, 2022

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