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What causes squamous cell lung cancer?

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Quick Answer

Squamous cell lung cancer is caused by smoking, exposure to radon, second-hand smoke and pollution, according to the American Cancer Society. Asbestos and diesel exhaust also lead to squamous cell lung cancer. Experts believe that this cancer also arises from genetic mutations that are either acquired or inherited.

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Full Answer

Radon is a naturally occurring gas that accumulates on the lower floors of buildings, according to the Environmental Protection Agency. It is odorless, tasteless and colorless but can be detected by a radon detector. Radon-reduction systems easily remove most radon from buildings.

Asbestos is a type of fiber that was popular in insulation, paint and other construction materials until its carcinogenic properties caused it to be at least partially banned, says the EPA.

Squamous cell carcinoma usually begins in the lining of the lung's air passages and is often found in the center of the lungs, where the airway meets the windpipe, according to About.com. It is the lung cancer that is most likely to be caused by smoking. Squamous cell carcinomas are not aggressive and most likely to be found early because of their location. The patient is alerted to something being wrong when he coughs up blood or has a cough and wheezing that doesn't go away. Because squamous cell carcinoma obstructs the airways of the lungs, it can lead to pneumonia or atelectasis, a condition where part of the lung collapses.

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