David Morrison has never smoked. He's never worked in a hazardous job environment, but doctors at LDS hospital in Salt Lake City took out a third of his right lung and surrounding lymph nodes, all eaten up by lung cancer. Now, David is part of a massive government research project to find better ways to fight lung cancer, and to work on that mystery as to why it can strike people like David with no apparent risk factor.
"They may not have an industrial exposure, but they may have worked in a place where there were a lot of industrial fumes, not really knowing about it," says Dr. Michael Collins, a Thoracic Surgeon.
Dr.Collins and his team at LDS say they suspect diesel exhaust, city pollution, even radon gas may be playing a role in the increasing number of non-smokers with lung cancer. Most researchers believe there are many triggers that may be catching up now with the non-smoking population. For example, David Morrison was never a smoker, but he did grow up in a house with smoking parents. The research project is looking into the theory that second-hand smoke may trigger a dormant gene, setting the stage for lung cancer years later.