Lung cancer is the leading cause of cancer-related death in the world. Tobacco is an addictive agent producing carcinogenic effects that have been extremely difficult to prevent or detect in a curable stage. Important randomized controlled studies have been published in "healthy" smokers (primary prevention); patients with early lesions, such as mucosal dysplasia/metaplasia (secondary prevention); and those who have already had definitive treatment for their first tobacco-related malignancy (tertiary prevention). To date, the results have been generally disappointing. It is critical to remember that lung cancer is usually diagnosed decades after the patient has begun or even stopped smoking. We must intervene with more effective agents or combinations of agents and do it earlier in the process of carcinogenesis. Approximately 10% of patients with lung cancer either never smoked or only were "passive" smokers due to their environment, workplace. These "never-smokers" may actually benefit from retinoids, while current smokers have not benefited from α-tocopherol, retinal, N-acetylcysteine, or isotretinoin. Smokers are actually harmed by the concurrent use of beta-carotene. We now have unprecedented knowledge regarding the control of cellular growth and senescence. New diagnostic tools also allow detection of smaller lesions. We must use all our knowledge of the cancer biology, new risk models, more refined intermediate markers, and modern detection tools to focus more clearly on the pathology of lung cancer and design research to ask more probing and relevant questions so we can begin to put an end to the worldwide scourge of this terrible killer.
- Lung cancer
- Smoking cessation
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Pulmonary and Respiratory Medicine
- Cardiology and Cardiovascular Medicine