Is Lung Cancer Hereditary?

Our lungs are the air sacs responsible for breathing and gaseous exchange, two crucial physiological processes meant for our survival. And like any other organ of ours, the lungs can also be affected by cancer: abnormal growth of somatic cells. 

In lung cancer, the spongy tissue of the lungs starts to divide without control leading to unexplained weight loss, persistent cough, shortness of breath, and chest pain accompanied by headache. However, it may prove deadly in most cases of this disease since it affects the most important part of the respiratory system.

But can this deadly disease: lung cancer, be passed onto one’s offspring? Let’s explore this question and various other aspects of lung cancer in this very article.

What Type Of Lung Cancer Is Hereditary? 

According to statistics, lung cancer is the second most prevalent form of cancer after breast cancer. Globally, lung cancer accounts for 12.2% of cancer cases

Malignant tumours are generally formed from exposure to mutagens like asbestos, radon, etc. However, tumours can also be formed due to DNA changes in lung cells. When the ratio of oncogenes to tumour suppressor genes increases, it leads to uncontrolled growth and spread of cancer cells.

Is It Possible To Inherit These Genes?

Yes, in some cases, people inherit the mutations in the lung cells from their parents. Though the presence of these genes alone doesn’t lead to lung cancer, one should pay heed to stay away from other causes of lung cancer. 

There is no doubt that mutations in chromosome 6 are the most apprehensive because they can cause lung cancer even if the person does not smoke. Therefore, it is advisable to consider one’s family history of lung abnormalities.

When inherited genetic mutations cause lung cancer, the disease will follow an autosomal dominant pattern, which means it only takes one altered gene in each cell for a person to develop the disease. These individuals inherit a high risk of developing cancer, but not the disease itself. It is not true that every person who inherits mutations in these genes will develop lung cancer.

Most of the gene changes that accelerate the disease are acquired rather than inherited in lung cancer.

Causes And Prevention Of Lung Cancer 

While tobacco smoking is one of the leading reasons of lung cancer, not all lung cancer patients tend to smoke. Smoking tobacco exposes one’s lungs to particles such as asbestos and radon, so 80% of lung cancer deaths are due to smoking

According to the previous section, lung cancer may run in families or may be acquired from outside sources like asbestos exposure, radon inhalation, and being around smokers. However, the rate of air pollution in cities has also increased the risk of lung cancer. These factors cause Non-small cell lung cancer.

After this detailed discussion on factors that cause lung cancer, let’s shift the focus to preventing this virulent disease. Though we cannot prevent lung cancer, there are ways to reduce the risk of cancer, such as:

  1. Quit Smoking: Since smoking is the primary cause of lung melanoma, avoid doing it or quit it if you already smoke. The key to healthy lungs is to break free from smoking.
  1. Avoid Second-Hand Smoke: If someone you live with or work with is a smoker, ask them to quit or ask them at least to smoke outside. Seek out places that don’t allow smoking, such as smoke-free restaurants and bars.
  1. Radon Testing: Check the levels of radon in your home as well as your workplace every year. If high radon levels are discovered, they can be decreased.
  1. Stay Away From Carcinogens: Lung cancer is usually caused by inhaling carcinogens; hence wear masks when you are at polluted locations or work. Read more on carcinogens and consult your doctor on how to avoid them altogether.

Is Lung Cancer Curable? 

According to medical science, lung cancer is of two types:

1. Small-cell Lung Cancers (SCLCs): This variant of lung cancer is most prevalent in smokers but is less common than other lung cancers. SCLCs proliferate and can spread to body parts other than the lungs. It is more lethal due to its property of metastasis.

2. Non-small cell Lung Cancer (NSCLC): Non-small-cell lung cancer is any form of cancer other than SCLC. Lung cancer includes several types, including adenocarcinoma, squamous cell carcinoma, and large cell carcinoma.

A mutation in the EGFR gene can cause some non-small cell lung cancers (NSCLCs) to overproduce EGFR protein. This specific gene change is more common in young, non-smoking, Asian women with adenocarcinoma of the lung.

Small cell lung cancer or not, oncologists have several procedures for diagnosing and treating lung cancers, but the ways to cure stage IV cancer are scanty.

Lung cancer can be diagnosed with a biopsy, sputum cytology, or simple lung tissue imaging. And then, tests like CT, MRI, or bone scans are done to predict the extent of the disease.

There are various methods to treat cancer like surgeries (resection, lobectomy, pneumonectomy), immunotherapy, palliative care, chemotherapy, and radiotherapy. In recent years, many cancer drugs have come to light that may enhance cancer survival rates.

PeptiCRAd is one such technology that we believe will be the future of targeted immunotherapy. 

Genetic Lung Cancer Survival Rate 

According to SEER, localised NSCLCs have a 5-year survival rate of 64 per cent, regional at 37 per cent, distant at 8 per cent, and all SEER stages together have a survival rate of 26 per cent. The statistics for SCLCs at 29%, Regional at 18%, Distant at 3%, and All SEER stages combined at 7%.

This data only confirms how fatal small cell lung cancers are.

Closing The Loop

Pulmonary cancer has both external and genetic origins. The deadly cancer genes can be acquired or inherited (rare). However, one’s body cannot prevent the expression of genes, but lifestyle changes can help you avoid cancer to some extent. So always take good care of your health.