Researchers examined cancer registries from Vanderbilt University in Nashville and The University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center and Parkland Hospital in Dallas to determine if the rate of lung cancer in people who have never smoked has increased. It’s estimated that 10% to 15% of lung cancers in the United States occur in these “never smokers.”
The registries contained data from 1990-2013 that included sex, age, cancer and stage, and self-reported smoking history. Registry data on 10,593 non–small cell lung cancer (NSCLC) patients and 1510 small cell lung cancer (SCLC) patients were examined. The proportion of never-smoker NSCLC patients increased from 8% in the years 1990-1995 to 15% in 2011-2013. The percentage of never smokers among SCLC patients or squamous cell NSCLC patients did not significantly change during this period.
Based on their findings, the researchers concluded that the incidence of lung cancer in people who have never smoked is increasing.
Pelosof L, Ahn C, Gao A, et al. Proportion of never-smoking non-small cell lung cancer patients at three diverse institutions. J Natl Cancer Inst. 2017; doi: 10.1093/jnci/djw295.