Snapshot on Lung Cancer

By Danni Morhart on Nov 22, 2018

My name is Danni Morhart, and I am a nursing student in my final year at the University of Saskatchewan.  I wanted to write this blog to share with others because I have seen first-hand how devastating lung cancer is, as I lost both my mother and grandmother to the disease.  Through my work at the Lung Association I have been able to access a great deal of credible information about lung cancer from experts who have worked and studied this terrible disease. This has fueled my passion for the prevention of lung cancer. I hope the information in this article is useful. 

It is a very hard road living with lung cancer or if you have a loved one affected, but you do not need to take it alone.  If you are in this position, I encourage you to join our lung cancer support group and make use of the informational resources available, as well as the support from other members.

Lung Cancer: What We Know

Primary Lung Cancer Begins in the Lungs 

Cancer can begin anywhere in the body, but when it begins in the lungs it is called primary lung cancer. Lung cancer occurs when a cancerous (malignant) growth forms in the lungs. This growth destroys healthy tissue, and can spread (metastasize) to other places in the body. Some people have secondary cancer in their lungs, which is cancer that has travelled from somewhere else in the body. These types of cancers are different from primary lung cancer. The focus in this information blog is on primary lung cancer. 

There are Two Main Types of Lung Cancer 

Non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC): This type of lung cancer is usually slow-growing, and makes up 80% of lung cancer cases[1]. The most common types of NSCLC are adenocarcinoma and squamous cell carcinoma. Adenocarcinoma occurs around the outer edges of the lungs, whereas squamous cell carcinoma mainly begins in the central part of the lungs. NSCLC also includes large cell carcinoma, which is less common. 

Small cell lung cancer (SCLC):  SCLC is less common than NSCLC, but is usually more aggressive as it grows faster. This type of lung cancer includes small cell, mixed small cell/large cell, and combined small cell carcinoma. At diagnosis, patients regularly have distant metastases, meaning the cancer has moved to other places in the body.

Associated Risk Factors for Lung Cancer: Tobacco, Radon, and more 

The number one risk factor for lung cancer is smoking. 90% of lung cancer cases in men, and 70% in women are attributed to smoking[2]. For information on tobacco cessation in Saskatchewan, find a health professional in your area

Although smoking is the number one cause of lung cancer, there are other causes, and not everyone with lung cancer has smoked. Did you know that exposure to radon gas is the second leading cause of lung cancer[3]? Radon exposure has been associated with all types of lung cancer, although SCLC and squamous cell carcinoma occur at greater rates1. Radon gas often seeps into buildings, and may even be present in your home or workplace. As you cannot see, smell, or taste radon, the only way to know is to test for it. At any time, you are able to purchase a test kit from the Lung Association, Saskatchewan and have peace of mind knowing your test results will be reviewed by experts in this area. Test today! 

Besides radon and smoking, the Lung Association identifies that exposure to any of the following increases your risk for lung cancer:  

  • second-hand smoke
  • asbestos
  • uranium, arsenic, and other toxic products

Other risk factors include: 

  • a family history or personal history of lung disease
  • lupus
  • a weakened immune system
  • air pollution exposure
  • cooking/heating fumes exposure
  • radiation exposure

For information about lung cancer, and its prevention, see the list of resources below. 

For More Resources, Help, or Information, See the Following:

 Downloadable resources:


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Page Last Updated: 11/12/2018