If you are a woman, how likely do you think you are to get lung cancer? If you’re like most women and think you are fairly safe, you may be very wrong.
Lung cancer is the number one cancer killer of women, according to the American Lung Association. But 98 percent of women don’t even realize they are at risk for lung cancer. And less than half of the women who are at high risk for lung cancer have talked to their doctor about that risk.
Part of the problem for women who fail to recognize their lung cancer risk may be that lung cancer used to be more common in men than in women.
According to an article in the Huffington Post, the last 38 years have yielded significant changes in risk for both men and women. The article states that new lung cancer cases have dropped 29 percent for men while new cases for women have risen 96 percent. Those changes are due in part to the different smoking rates for men and women over time.
Historically, men smoked more cigarettes than women did until cigarette companies began targeting women in advertising in the 1970s. As a result, the lung cancer rate peaked for men in 1984, while the rate for women continued to climb until 1998.
Whether or not you have ever been a smoker, you may still be at risk for lung cancer.
Approximately two-thirds of all lung cancer occurs in people who have never smoked or who quit smoking, according to the Huffington Post article. Other risk factors include exposure to radon, genetics, secondhand smoke and other pollutants.
The American Lung Association states that the survival rate for lung cancer is among the lowest for all types of cancer. Approximately 400 people die from lung cancer each day.
Many women surveyed by The American Lung Association were unaware of this statistic, or of the extra risk it presents for women who don’t know their lung cancer risks. Early diagnosis and treatment is critical to help save lives of people with lung cancer.
When this cancer is caught early, the chance of survival more than triples. In order to safeguard themselves from this deadly disease, women need to be more aware of their risk for lung cancer.
If you have questions about your risks or want to learn more about lung cancer symptoms, talk to your health care provider.
Reviewed November 8, 2016
by Michele Blacksberg RN
Edited by Jody Smith
Does Lung Cancer Have a Gender Bias? The Huffington Post. Web. Retrieved November 1, 2016.
Lung Force: Women’s Lung Health Barometer Infographic. American Lung Association. Web. Retrieved November 1, 2016.
New Research from American Lung Association’s LUNG FORCE Finds lUng Cnacer Awareness Remains Critically Low, Despite Being Leading Cancer Killer. American Lung Association. Web. Retrieved November 1, 2016.