Lung cancer mystery: Why are healthy, non-smoking, Asian women contracting the disease?

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Non-smoking Asian women getting lung crab astatine a precocious rate; caller survey seeks to find wherefore

Non-smoking Asian women getting lung crab astatine a precocious rate; caller survey seeks to find why 06:11

A Bay Area-based survey finds that 80% of Asian American women with lung crab ne'er smoked and researchers are trying to fig retired why.

Five years ago, Vicky Ni got a telephone from her doctor. She had conscionable gone successful for an X-ray for what she thought was a pinched nerve. The adjacent happening she knew, she was sitting successful an oncologist's office.

"I was determination by myself and, you know, the connection "cancer" comes retired of the doctor's mouth, truthful that's benignant of not good," said Ni.

She had ne'er smoked a time successful her life, but the 48-year-old parent of 2 was diagnosed with signifier IV lung cancer, the 2nd astir communal crab successful some men and women successful the United States. 

"I was asking them, I'm like, okay, truthful however agelong is treatment? And, you know, erstwhile are we done with this?" said Ni. "No 1 had told maine up until past it was signifier four. So, it was incurable. I would fundamentally person to unrecorded with this information for the remainder of my life."

Ni is present 53. The treatments person been brutal;.they've fixed her precocious humor unit and cholesterol. The crab has present dispersed to her abdomen. But it's not the carnal broadside effects that wounded the most. Ni has 2 daughters who were 13 and 15 erstwhile she was archetypal diagnosed.

A fewer years ago, Vicky was asked to enactment successful a probe programme astatine the University of California, San Francisco called FANS, which stands for Female, Asian, Non-Smokers. Launched 15 years agone by Dr. Scarlett Gomez and Dr. Iona Cheng, it's a first-of-its-kind survey successful the U.S. connected wherefore lung crab rates were rising among Asian females who ne'er smoked.

"Lung crab rates really person been declining implicit the past respective decades," said Gomez. "The objection to that inclination was among Asian American females wherever the rates and the inclination of the rates person been somewhat expanding and edging upwards implicit the past respective decades."

In Focus: Lung crab successful Asian American women 05:51

The doctors anticipation the FANS survey not lone leads to the improvement of much preventative measures and screening but besides grabs the attraction of folks with heavy pockets. Right now, little than 1% of backing from the National Institutes of Health goes to diseases that interaction the Asian American community.

"There is this cognition that Asians don't get sick," said Gomez. 

Ni isn't spending her vigor wondering however oregon wherefore she got lung cancer. Instead, she is turning her symptom into purpose, by reaching retired to different women similar 34-year-old Kit Ho who Ni recruited to also beryllium portion of the FANS study.

"I conscionable consciousness similar thing from me, if my tissue, if my saliva tin assistance the researchers to find much medicine oregon find much ways to place radical early, past I privation to beryllium a portion of it," said Ho.

Ho was diagnosed with crab connected Thanksgiving 2023. Doctors discovered 4 tumors successful her encephalon they judge were linked to lung cancer. Just similar Ni, she ne'er smoked. She's besides a ma to 2 kids who are 2 and 4 years old.

Ni is focusing connected the things that bring her joy: family, friends and helping others cognize that adjacent successful their hardest moments, they are not alone.

"I privation to bash everything I tin to marque this diagnosis benignant of meaningful to the world," said Ni.

Elizabeth Cook


Less than a period aft arriving astatine KPIX 5 arsenic the 5pm co-anchor and night-side reporter, Elizabeth Cook was successful San Francisco's Mission District covering a chaotic Occupy march erstwhile a protester shoved her and her cameraman. With lone moments to spare, the squad got to information and filed their study for the 11 p.m. news.

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