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8 Myths About Lung Cancer

The HealthCentral Editorial Team Mar 28, 2012 (updated Oct 22, 2014)
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True or false?
True or false?
Lung cancer is one type of cancer that many people have heard much about because of its links to such common things as smoking, asbestos, and air pollution.But how can you know the myths from the facts in what you hear about this condition? Here we take on 8 of the most common myths about lung cancer to separate truth from fiction.
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Only smokers get lung cancer.
Only smokers get lung cancer.
False. Anyone can develop lung cancer, though current and former smokers are both at a higher risk of developing it. People who have breathed in large quantities of secondhand smoke also have an increased chance of lung cancer, as do those who have had tuberculosis.Other things that can boost lung cancer risk include exposure to radiation, to some industrial substances such as arsenic and asbestos, and to air pollution.
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I'm too young to get lung cancer.
I
False. Lung cancer can strike people of any age, including children, though it is more common in older people.In fact, one particular type of lung cancer, bronchioloalveolar cancer, is showing an increased incidence in younger, non-smoking women.
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Lung cancer can't be treated.
Lung cancer can
False. If detected early enough, lung cancer is treatable with surgery, chemotherapy, and radiation oncology.Research has shown that when lung cancer is diagnosed early enough for surgery to be performed, the five-year survival rates can be as high as 85 percent.
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I don't have any symptoms, so I must not have lung cancer.
I don
False.  About 25 percent of people who have lung cancer have no symptoms at all. Their lung cancer is often diagnosed by a routine CT scan or a chest X-ray.The signs and symptoms of lung cancer can take years to appear, and then they are sometimes confused with symptoms of other health conditions.
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There's a blood test to detect lung cancer.
There
False.  Lung cancer can only be diagnosed through examination of tissue obtained by needle biopsy, open lung biopsy, or by a procedure that involves inserting a device called a bronchoscope into the throat.
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Lung cancer rates are dropping now that fewer people smoke.
Lung cancer rates are dropping now that fewer people smoke.
Both true and false.  The answer depends on gender.  From 1991 to 2005, lung cancer rates dropped 1.8 percent per year among men. But they actually rose 0.5 percent per year among women during the same time period.
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If I already have lung cancer, there's no point in quitting smoking.
If I already have lung cancer, there
False. If you have lung cancer and are still smoking, you should know that quitting smoking can improve the chances your surgery will be successful and decrease the chances that you'll die from other health conditions. Also, if you are able to stop smoking before you're diagnosed, your lung tissue can begin to gradually return to normal.
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I'm too old for my lung cancer to be treated.
I
False. Unless you are suffering from another health condition that will prevent you from being treated, you're never too old to have your lung cancer treated.