How common is lung cancer in women?
Lung cancer is the largest single cause of
cancer deaths in Illinois women. For years, men were at higher risk for lung
cancer because of their higher smoking rates. However, with the rising number
of women who smoke, lung cancer surpassed breast cancer as the leading cause of
cancer deaths among women. From 1975 to 1995, the number of Illinois women who
died of lung cancer increased almost 180 percent compared to an increase of
about 22 percent in Illinois men.
If I do not smoke, can I develop lung
Smoking causes 87 percent of lung cancer, but
what about the other 13 percent? There is evidence that exposure to tobacco
smoke in the home, usually from a smoking spouse, may increase the risk of lung
cancer in non-smoking women. Nearly nine out of 10 non-smoking Americans are
exposed to "second-hand" smoke, as measured by levels of nicotine in
their blood. The best scientific studies show that restrictions on second hand
smoke reduce the risk of death and injury to non-smokers, including the
hundreds of thousands of children with asthma and other
respiratory illness. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has classified
second-hand smoke as a group A carcinogen (known to cause cancer in humans).
More studies are needed to determine how much exposure might be harmful in any
of these settings.
You can find out more about lung cancer by
contacting the following organizations:
National Cancer Institutes Cancer
National Heart, Lung, and Blood
What is the current treatment for lung
The best way to avoid death from lung cancer is
never to smoke, or to stop smoking. Once lung cancer is diagnosed, there are
several treatment options, including radiation, various chemotherapies and
surgery. Survival rates have improved for non-small cell lung cancer because of
advances in combination radiation/chemotherapy treatment. However, small cell
lung cancer is still very difficult to treat. Small cell is the most aggressive
of lung cancers, and many patients have advanced disease at the time of
diagnosis. Small cell lung cancer is responsive to both chemotherapy and
radiation, yet nearly all these patients eventually relapse and need
There is a clear need for more effective
treatments for lung cancer. New advances in research have recently led to new
drugs that can protect normal cells from being destroyed from chemotherapy.
Early detection remains the key to successful
therapy. If you have a history of chronic coughing, coughing up blood, chest
pain or fever, you should be evaluated by your physician as soon as possible.
Lung cancer is not the only smoking- related
cause of death in women. The World Health Organization states that at least 25
percent of women smokers will die of smoking-related disease such as
cardiovascular disease and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD).