Your diagnosis

People who have RET+ NSCLC

People who have RET+ NSCLC

People who are diagnosed with RET+ NSCLC tend to be:
  • Younger than a lot of other people diagnosed with cancer6–8
    People with RET+ NSCLC tend to be diagnosed when they are around 60. In comparison, most people with lung cancer are usually diagnosed around the age of 70
  • Never-smokers or light smokers6,7,9,10
    Many people who are diagnosed with RET+ NSCLC have only lightly smoked, or never even smoked at all

Risk factors for developing RET+ NSCLC

Right now, we don’t know exactly why some people develop a change in their RET gene.

While smoking and being exposed to second-hand smoke are some of the most well-known causes of lung cancer,11 people who develop RET+ NSCLC often have never smoked, or may have only lightly smoked, in the past.6,7,9,10

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 RET+ NSCLC.

Exposure to inhaled or ingested substances such as:
  • Asbestos12
  • Arsenic12
  • Non-tobacco smoke (e.g. burning buildings and wildfires, which may contain traces of metals and other carcinogenic substances)12
  • Diesel exhaust12
  • 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)12
  • Atmospheric pollutants13
Radiation exposure from:
  • X-rays, CT scans14
  • Radiotherapy to the chest area15
  • Radon exposure16
  • Exposure to radioactive fallout17
Family history/genetics
  • Although inheritance is not guaranteed, people with a family history of lung cancer are more likely to develop it than people without18
HIV infection
  • People with HIV are up to three times more likely to develop lung cancer than those without the infection19,20

Click on one of the options below to learn more 

Deoxyribonucleic acid
Non-small cell lung cancer
Rearranged during transfection

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  2. Cancer Research UK. Genes, DNA and cancer. 2020. Available at: Accessed October 2021.
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  8. SEER Cancer Stat Fact Sheets: Lung and Bronchus Cancer. Available at: Last accessed October 2021.
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  11. National Comprehensive Cancer Network (NCCN). NCCN clinical practice guideline in oncology: non-small cell lung cancer, Version v1 2022.
  12. Field RW & Withers BL. Clin Chest Med 2012; 33(4): 10.1016/j.ccm.2012.07.001.
  13. World Health Organization (WHO). Ambient (outdoor) air quality and health. 2018. Available at: Accessed October 2021.
  14. Berrington de González A et al. J Med Screen 2008; 15(3): 153–158.
  15. Friedman DL et al. J Natl Cancer Inst 2010; 102(14): 1083–1095.
  16. American Cancer Society. Radon and Cancer. 2015. Available at: Accessed October 2021.
  17. Shimizu Y et al. Radiat Res 1990; 121(2): 120–141.
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  19. Shiels MS et al. J Acquir Immune Defic Syndr 2009; 52(5): 611–622.
  20. Winstone TA et al. Chest 2013; 143(2): 30–314.
  21. Shaw AT et al. J Clin Oncol 2009; 27(26): 4247–4253.
  22.  She T et al. Clin Lung Cancer 2020; 21(5): e349–e354.
  23. Drilon A et al. N Engl J Med 2020; 383(9): 813–824.
  24. Curigliano C et al. Abstract 9089 presented at the American Society of Clinical Oncology (ASCO) Annual Meeting; 4–8 June 2021; virtual format.