While the 5-year survival rate for breast cancer is now 90.1%, cervical cancer at 71.8%, and ovarian cancer at 45.6%, the 5-year survival for women with lung cancer is still only 18.8%, according to a new report. Titled “Out of the Shadows: Women and Lung Cancer,” the report was compiled by the Mary Horrigan Connors Center for Women’s Health at Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Boston to bring attention to the impact of lung cancer on women. The report summarizes current research, indicates gaps in knowledge, and suggests priority areas for research funding.
The report found that a growing body of research shows differences in susceptibility, progression, and responsiveness to treatment in lung cancer between women and men. Of the over 200,000 men and women diagnosed with lung cancer each year, nearly 98,000 are women, accounting for 26% of all cancer deaths among women—more than breast, ovarian, and uterine cancer.
Women also account for more than 60% of the 25,000 people who have never smoked and who are being diagnosed with lung cancer, according to the report. Evidence suggests that women may be more sensitive than men to the cancer causing effects of chemicals in cigarettes, are more susceptible to the carcinogens in second hand smoke, and that the female hormone estrogen may elevate a women’s risk for lung cancer.