Nonsmoker lung cancer on the rise in UK

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  • The number of people with lung cancer who never smoked more than doubled between 2008 and 2014, according to a study at the largest tertiary center for lung cancer resections in the United Kingdom.

Why this matters

  • Similar increases among never-smokers in the United States have been reported and if these rates continue to rise, never-smoker lung cancer will be the most common type of lung cancer within 10 y.

Study design

  • 2170 patients underwent surgical resection for lung cancer between March 2008 and November 2014.
  • Funding: Abby Webb Memorial Fund.

Key results

  • 20% had never smoked.
  • The number of never-smokers with lung cancer increased during the study period from 13% to 28%.
  • The majority of never-smokers were female (67%).
  • Main tumor types were adenocarcinoma (54%) and carcinoid (27%).
  • Tumors in the majority of never-smokers detected on incidental imaging (59 patients on chest film, 127 on CT, 32 on positron-emission tomography/CT, and 4 on MRI).
  • 5-y survival significantly higher for never-smokers than ex-smokers (60% vs 40%; P<.001); mortality HR for smokers vs non-smokers was 1.65 (95% CI, 1.29-2.11).


  • Single-center, retrospective study.
  • Smoking status self-reported.