Are non-smokers also at risk for lung cancer? A pulmonologist elucidates

Cigarette smoking has long been known to be one of the primary causes for lung cancer, but experts say that it is not the only one. Rising pollution, bad air quality and many other factors could be possible reasons for a lung cancer diagnosis, highlighting the fact that non-smokers may be an an equal risk.

“Significant rise in air pollution, both outdoor and indoor, use of biomass fuels for cooking, occupational exposure could be some reasons for the increase in non-smoking cancer patients in India,” said Dr Amit Dhamija, pulmonologist, Sir Ganga Ram Hospital, New Delhi.

The expert added, “Lung cancer can also be caused by factors such as presence of radon in your environment or soil, second-hand smoking and gene mutation.”

lung cancer To help manage and prevent the onset of lung cancer, various techniques are employed. (Source: Pixabay)

It is, therefore, crucial for one to stay vigilant and not take regular check-ups for granted. The expert also listed four modalities through which lung cancer can be detected. They are:

X – Rays

X Rays are the most common radiology tests and “may play an important role in detecting cancerous tissue”, said Dr Dhamija. “The shaded portion in an X-Ray may be a tumour. Further investigations are done to get a clear diagnosis,” he explained.

PET Scan/CT Scan

This technology helps physicians to determine abnormal areas of the lung “which could be cancerous and help plan site for biopsy” and “also help in staging cancer after diagnosis”.


A piece of tissue or fluid is removed from lungs to examine under a microscope to check for cancer. Biopsies are the most “definitive way of determining whether a tissue is cancerous or not,” he told

Endobronchial Ultrasound (EBUS)

EBUS is a procedure that helps in diagnosing different types of lung disorders, including cancer. ”It is done by using a flexible tube that goes into the mouth and into the windpipe and lungs. EBUS is a minimally invasive bronchoscopic procedure to evaluate inflammation, infections and cancer cells in the lungs,” he shared.

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