Risk factors for developing ALK+ NSCLC
Right now, we don’t know exactly why some people develop a change in their ALK gene.
Although smoking and being exposed to second-hand smoke are some of the most well-known causes of lung cancer,15 people who develop ALK+ NSCLC have often never smoked, or may have only lightly smoked, in the past.5,16
Developing lung cancer when you have little or no smoking history can be extremely frustrating, and you might find yourself looking for answers as to why you have developed lung cancer at all.
There are a number of other factors (summarised below) that are thought to be associated with the development of NSCLCs. However, it’s important to note that for some people, there may be no obvious cause as to why they have developed ALK+ NSCLC.
Exposure to inhaled or ingested substances such as:
- Non-tobacco smoke (e.g. burning buildings and wildfires, which may contain traces of metals and other carcinogenic substances)17
- Diesel exhaust17
- Metals such as chromium, beryllium, and nickel (you might be exposed to these if you work with car engines, or around smelting or welding, for example)17
- Atmospheric pollutants18
Radiation exposure from:
- X-rays, CT scans19
- Radiotherapy to the chest area20
- Radon exposure21
- Exposure to radioactive fallout22
- Although inheritance is not guaranteed, people with a family history of lung cancer are more likely to develop it than people without22,23
- People with HIV are up to three times more likely to develop lung cancer than those without the infection24,25