Six lung cancer truths

Even though lung cancer is one of the most common cancers in the U.S., there are still a lot of questions about screenings and causes of lung cancer. We asked our expert, Chirag Patel, MD, thoracic surgeon at the HonorHealth Heart and Lung Surgical Group, to debunk six common myths about lung cancer.

Myth: Lung cancer is not the leading cause of cancer death.

Truth: According to the CDC, more people die from lung cancer than any other cancer in the U.S.

Dr. Patel: Early detection and regular screenings are critical, especially for individuals who are at high risk or have a family history of lung cancer. A lung cancer screening can detect the disease at an earlier stage when it is more treatable, leading to potentially better outcomes and increased chances of survival.

Myth: Only people who smoke cigarettes are at risk for developing lung cancer.

Truth: Everyone is at risk, even if you don’t smoke.

Dr. Patel: While smoking cigarettes remains the leading cause of lung cancer, there are other factors that can put you at risk. Other risk factors include exposure to secondhand smoke or asbestos, radon or certain chemicals, air pollution, if you have a family history of lung cancer and certain genetic mutations.

Myth: Only older adults get lung cancer.

Truth: Lung cancer can develop at any age.

Dr. Patel: The risk of lung cancer increases with age, particularly after the age of 50. Although it’s more common in older adults, younger individuals in their 20s and 30s can also develop lung cancer. It’s important you remain vigilant and talk to your primary care provider if you’re experiencing symptoms or have a family history of the disease.


Myth: Lung cancer can’t be caused by e-cigarettes.

Truth: E-cigarettes do pose a potential risk for lung cancer.

Dr. Patel: E-cigarettes deliver nicotine and other harmful substances, and the inhalation of these substances can cause lung damage and potentially contribute to the development of lung cancer over time. While the long-term effects of e-cigarettes are still being studied, it is crucial to be aware of the potential risks associated with their use, particularly as it relates to lung health.


Myth: Lung cancer can’t be detected early.

Truth: Screenings provide early detection of lung cancer.

Dr. Patel: At HonorHealth Heart and Lung Surgical Group, we use leading-edge imaging tests, such as low-dose CT scans, to identify any abnormalities that may be indicative of lung cancer. It’s also important to know and recognize common signs and symptoms of the disease. Talk to your primary care provider to see if a lung cancer screening is right for you.


Myth: Lung cancer is always terminal. 

Truth: While lung cancer can be a serious and life-threatening disease, it is not always terminal.

Dr. Patel: A lung cancer prognosis depends on the stage of the disease. An early-stage lung cancer diagnosis has a higher chance of long-term survival. Late-stage lung cancer that has spread to other parts of the body may have a more cautious prognosis. Other factors to consider include your overall health, the type of lung cancer and treatment options.


Lung cancer screenings and treatments

Dr. Patel: Advances in medical treatments, including surgery, radiation therapy, targeted therapies and immunotherapies, have improved the outcomes for many individuals with lung cancer. At HonorHealth Heart and Lung Surgical Group, our expert team of thoracic surgeons specialize in lung cancer screening, as well as surgical and minimally invasive procedures for lung and esophageal cancer. They will partner with you to help you get back to doing what you love as soon as possible. 


Request an appointment

To learn more about lung cancer treatments or to schedule a lung cancer screening, call the HonorHealth Heart and Lung Surgical Group at 480-882-7750