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Smoke free environment, family has chain smokers. Family history of small cell lung cancer patients, throat cancer patients. Chances of getting cancer?

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Practicing since : 2004
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My dad just passed away Dec. 22, 2011 from small cell lung cancer at the age of 65 as well as his 4 other siblings and his father who passed from throat cancer and 1 of those siblings died from throat the remaining small cell lung all in their 50's, my dad is the only one that made it passed 60 and they were all smokers so my entire family on my dad side is now gone except for 2 brothers and 1 of those is facing small cell and I am a 47 female and I do not smoke, never have but of course lived in a house of smokers until the age of 15. I have a smoke free work and home enviroment but on occasion may be around people who smoke but I try to stay away as much as possible so what are my chances of getting this cancer since it's so common in on my dad side?
Posted Tue, 8 May 2012 in Lung Cancer
Answered by Dr. Indranil Ghosh 9 hours later

I am sorry to hear about your dad, brother and other family members. Hope your affected family member is doing well on treatment.

Though they were all smokers, having almost 100% of smokers affected in one family and that too with all small cell variant (which is only 15% of all lung cancers) is an extremely rare phenomenon. I strongly believe you have a got familial predisposition to small cell lung cancer. As hereditary predisposition to small cell lung cancer is rare there is not much clarity in medical literature on the exact genes responsible for this.

Having said that, it is not possible to say whether you had inherited that gene or not (chances are a maximum of 50%). As we do not know the gene itself, we can not do any test for that also.

As you are not a smoker, your chances of getting lung cancer are low (even if you have the predisposition).

People who don't smoke but who breathe the smoke of others may be at a higher risk for lung cancer. Non-smokers who live with a smoker, for instance, have about a 20% to 30% greater risk of developing lung cancer. Non-smokers exposed to tobacco smoke in the workplace are also more likely to get lung cancer. You have been exposed to passive smoking till age 15 years but thankfully >30 years have passed since then.

Small cell lung cancer is extremely rare in non-smokers (<5%), even if familial predisposition is present. Hence I believe that you will continue to do very well throughout your life.

Hope, this answers your query. Please accept my answer in case you have no follow up queries. Wish you and your family a healthy life.

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