Cooking Fumes and Risk of Developing Lung Cancer (Particularly in Never-Smokers)

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It has been noted for many years that Asian women appear to be particularly predisposed to lung cancer despite a low frequency of smoking. Many of the series from resected NSCLC series have never-smoker rates of 30-50%, with the majority of these never-smokers as women. As we've struggled to understand and explain risks, hormonal differences between men and women have emerged as a possibility, as has genetic differences.

Lung Nodule Growth Rate: An Important Factor in Assessing Risk of Cancer

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A cancer has to grow faster than the tissue around it to become a tumor. Progressive growth is therefore a central feature of a cancer and a critical factor in distinguishing cancerous nodules from benign ones. There is a characteristic "volume doubling time" (VDT), the interval it takes for a nodule to double in volume. It's worth keeping in mind that because a nodule is generally spherical, an increase in the diameter by just 28% (such as a 2 mm increase from 7 to 9 mm) actually represents a doubling of the volume of a nodule.

Imaging Features of Nodules: What Makes a Lung Nodule High Risk for Cancer?

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As you might suspect, there are features of different spolitary pulmonary nodules (SPNs) that makes us more or less suspicious for cancer. The first is the size of the nodule. Looking at multiple series of SPNs, the likelihood of cancer among nodules that measured under 5 mm is generally in the 0-1% range. Nodules in the 5-10 mm range have been found to be cancer in up to about about 28% of cases, with most studies showing the risk of cancer in this range to be one in four or five.

PET Scans for Follow-up of Patients After Surgery or Chemo/Radiation

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We know PET scans can provide additional metabolic information that can be more sensitive and specific for cancer than chest x-rays and even CT scans in the initial staging of lung cancer (see prior post on introduction to PET scans). PET scans are now nearly universally employed in the initial workup, at least of patients who have NSCLC and aren’t already known to have stage IV disease.

A Few Highlights of the Updated Lung Cancer Staging System

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A substantial revision of the staging system was presented at the World Conference on Lung Cancer in Korea this week. This project involved multiple lung cancer experts from all over the world and from a variety of specialties over the last several years, who reviewed the data on approximately 100,000 lung cancer cases, both NSCLC and SCLC. They looked at various ways to break down this large database of cases in order to provide a more accurate prognosis for patients.

Genetics, Family History, and Lung Cancer

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Many members have asked questions about increased risk of lung cancer among family members of people who have developed lung cancer. Overall, I have not highlighted this, partly because we don't tend to highlight genetics as a major contributor of lung cancer risk. But the fact is that 10-15% of people who develop lung cancer never smoked, and the vast majority of smokers never develop lung cancer.