Lung cancer is the leading cause of cancer death among women; and the second-leading cause of death after heart disease.
But there is good news: WomensHealth.gov reports that lung cancer deaths in women continue to decline each year, thanks in part to federal programs to help women quit smoking and federally funded research leading to improved treatments, scientific understanding, and public health policies.
Smoking is the leading risk factor for lung cancer, although 20 percent of women diagnosed with lung cancer have never smoked. Women are more likely than men to develop non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC), a type of lung cancer that is most commonly found in non-smokers. The hormone estrogen may play a role. A 2009 report from the Women’s Health Initiative found that hormone therapy increased the risk of dying from lung cancer in post-menopausal women.
Still, women of all ages are more likely to survive longer with lung cancer than men. Women who have surgery for certain types of lung cancer, including NSCLC, also have better survival rates than men, according to an article in the National Institute of Health. They also respond better to some of the chemotherapy medications used for lung cancer.
Photo courtesy of WomensHealth.gov
This article is intended to convey general educational information and should not be relied upon as a substitute for professional healthcare advice.