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Dr. Andrew Rynne
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Dr. Andrew Rynne

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Does Marijuana cause lung cancer?

Answered by
Dr.
Dr. Indranil Ghosh

Oncologist

Practicing since :2004

Answered : 1506 Questions

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Posted on Mon, 16 May 2016 in Cancer
Question:




I'm 22 year old regular/heavy marijuana smoker for 2.5-3 years. I quit 4 weeks ago due to an onset of breathlessness which hasn't quite been normal since. I also have a history of ulcerative colitis which I got diagnosed with 6 years ago and have been in remission with for 4 years. I also have a history of iron deficiency but my blood levels are currently normal. Hemoglobin 14 feratin around 30. Aside from my breathlessness I've had no fever and ocassional dry cough and a clicking sensation limitednear my right upper rib that comes and goes when exhaling from a deep breath . These symptoms started the morning after a night of smoking. Coincidentally these symptoms started during a time where the weather was extremely cold and a lot of my peers around me were battling respiratory infections but not like the symptoms I've described. I've had these symptoms for about a month so I wanted to run it by you to see how likely it is they can be attributed to lung cancer. Please read the entire post as I give a lot of insight as to why I feel it may be cancer.
After thinking about somethings and looking around the dreaded Internet I might have overlooked some symptoms in the past that could be attributed to a potential lung cancer and I wanted to run it by you. Approximately around November I developed a sebaceous cyst near a lymph node in my left armpit.Doctor ordered a sonogram which confirmed it was just a sebaceous cyst. However the cyst popped and left a weird flap of skin that still oozes pus. I link this to the lung cancer theory because of an article I read online saying how certain lung cancers can contribute to abnormal sebaceous tissue growth.

Ironically during this time in November I had another incident with smoking marijuana. I was smoking it out of a water pipe and took one long harsh rip, which was followed by something very strange. My mouth started pouring out saliva uncontrollably like a river which lasted for a few days to a week , accompanied by a hard time swallowing and a feeling of something stuck in the back of my throat. After a few days those symptoms left me and I really didn't think much of it other than maybe just smoking too much that night. But now I'm starting to question if it may be apart of a bigger picture.

December rolled around and I noticed going up a flight of stairs at my job left me a bit winded more than usual but I kind of chalked it up as me being out of shape and being a daily/heavy marijuana smoker for a few years.

February comes, and I tried vaping marijuana wax. Which 4 weeks ago from today developed the feeling that started all this of which I felt I couldn't take a full/satisfying breath. Pretty much since then I've felt weakened, and definitely noticed a significant appetite decrease but without much weight loss, lost about 4-6 and haven't lost any weight since.

I've noticed I have good/bad days. Some days I feel I'm able to take fuller breaths more than others and have more energy than other days. But nothing to which I'd call normal yet. The clicking sensation I mentioned previously more or less stopped but I did notice a tenderness to touch on both ribs, but more specifically my right rib. I also noticed my endurance when I run hasn't really been effected but I did notice after excercise , or just in general that I've had more of an urgency to spit phlegm out. The phlegm is completely clear but I noticed it's pretty thick. Not sure if I mentioned this as well but I also did notice a dull ache near my right upper back during the onset of this but has went away shortly after the initial onset of these symptoms.
doctor
Answered by Dr. Indranil Ghosh 4 hours later
Brief Answer:
no suggestion of cancer

Detailed Answer:
Hi
Thanks for your query.

Marijuana doesn't cause lung cancer. Tobacco does. So only smoking marijuana doesn't increase risk of lung cancer. And you are only 22 years old. So chance of having lung cancer is close to zero.

Moreover, the symptoms you have mentioned are not much suggestive of lung cancer. Maybe some form of asthma or respiratory infection. Have you had any X-ray done?

The dull aching rib and back pains are more likely muscle or joint related issues.

I would suggest not to worry too much about lung cancer, consult a physician or pulmonologist and get a X-ray done. Then we can give proper treatment and provide more reassurance that this is not lung cancer.

Hope this helps.
Regards
Above answer was peer-reviewed by : Dr. Chakravarthy Mazumdar
doctor
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Follow up: Dr. Indranil Ghosh 29 minutes later
Haven't had an X-ray yet as I'm away at school and haven't gotten to visit a doctor. Are there any over the counter medications you recommend me trying to help relieve asthma symptoms in the meantime
doctor
Answered by Dr. Indranil Ghosh 2 hours later
Brief Answer:
asthma medications are not over the counter

Detailed Answer:
Till you can see a doctor you can try natural remedies like steam inhalation, deep breathing exercises and meditation. These can help a lot.
Above answer was peer-reviewed by : Dr. Chakravarthy Mazumdar
doctor
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Follow up: Dr. Indranil Ghosh 18 hours later
Some additional history worth noting, I ocassionally have traces of blood when I spit, not from a cough or anything but just simply spitting. Is this more likely to be from a gum disease from smoking or possibly be corelated to my breathlessness?
doctor
Answered by Dr. Indranil Ghosh 8 hours later
Brief Answer:
unlikely to be from lungs

Detailed Answer:
This type of blood streaking without cough is not from lungs but usually from upper tract like, as you said, gums.

So very unlikely to be related to breathlessness
Above answer was peer-reviewed by : Dr. Chakravarthy Mazumdar
doctor
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