Lung Cancer More Common in Women, Research Shows

A doctor discusses why there are more cases of lung cancer being reported in women and what can be done to help with prevention.

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Research shows more cases of lung cancer are being reported among younger and middle-aged women – reversing historical patterns. 

And while that is of concern, Humberto Choi, MD, who specializes in pulmonary and critical care medicine at Cleveland Clinic, said lung cancer cases overall are actually declining. 
 
“Over the last decade, the incidences of lung cancer has actually been declining,” said Dr. Choi. “But looking especially over the last 20 years, lung cancer has been declining a little faster among men compared to women. So that is why we are seeing, in certain age groups, the incidences of lung cancer among women is actually higher compared to men.” 
 
However, Dr. Choi said it’s unclear why cases are higher among women. 

More research needs to be done. 

In the meantime, he strongly urges anyone who is eligible for a lung cancer screening to get one. 

Current guidelines recommend screenings for people ages 50 to 80 years old who smoke or formerly smoked, and have a 20-year or greater pack-year history. 

Screening involves a non-invasive CT scan. 

Dr. Choi also encourages smokers to quit. 

He said it’s the biggest risk factor for developing lung cancer. 

“The biggest risk factor is still cigarette smoking, so the most important thing to prevent lung cancer among everyone is really to never smoke or to quit as soon as possible,” he advised.
 
He said he can understand why some people may be nervous to get a lung cancer screening, but the sooner an individual is diagnosed, the more treatment options available.  

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