More Non-smoking Women Getting Lung Cancer
Most people do not believe lung cancer will affect them. November is the Lung Cancer Awareness Month, and there is no better time than now to have a difficult conversation and take a hard look at the fact that non-smoking women can also get lung cancer.
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Women and Lung Cancer
According to the American Cancer Society, as many as 20 percent of people in the United States who died from lung cancer in 2018—a total of roughly 30,000 people—never smoked.Lung cancer in women who have never smoked is showing a rapid increase. For non-smokers between the ages of 40 and 79, more women than men are at risk for developing lung cancer. The latest data show an incidence rate in non-smoking women ranging from 14.4 to 20.8 percent. For non-smoking men, the rate is between 4.8 and 13.7 percent1. Possible causes can include environmental, hormonal or genetic. Factors such as exposure to second-hand smoke and high radon levels, as well as family history, can also raise risks. To understand why there is higher incidence in non-smoking women getting lung cancer, Dr. John Heymach of MD Anderson Cancer Center has called for more funding to study lung cancer in never-smokers. It “is an area that’s underserved and deserves more investment,” Heymach said2.
There is emerging interest in the role viruses can play in cancer. Several viruses are linked with cancer in humans. The growing knowledge of the role of viruses as a cause of cancer has led to the development of vaccines to help prevent certain human cancers. But these vaccines can only protect against infections if they are given before the person is exposed to the cancer-promoting virus. For example, a few types of HPV are the main causes of cervical cancer, which is the second most common cancer among women worldwide3.
Further prospective studies designed to assess causality between HPV infection and lung cancer risk are needed, as there has been known success with HPV vaccinations in cervical cancer4.
BioMark Diagnostics – Early-Stage Detection
Cancer kills and life expectancy varies dramatically depending on the stage of the cancer and how fast it is caught. Women are at greater risk, and you might need to look at the guidelines associated with recommended testing for non-smoking women between the ages of 40-79 with risk factors discussed above. At BioMark, we believe that early detection of cancer increases the chance of being cured.
BioMark Diagnostics is developing actionable blood-based diagnostic tools for clinicians by integrating new cutting-edge quantification and qualification technologies along with machine learning. What this means for you, the patient, minimally invasive, and fast cancer detection tools available to your physician.
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Cancer is too important to ignore. November is Lung Cancer Awareness Month. Share this article with someone you care about.
- Li Y, Tsai YC, Chen YC, et al. Human papilloma virus and female lung adenocarcinoma. Semin Oncol. 2009;36:542–552. [PubMed]