The Effects of Lung Cancer on Female Smokers


The Effects of Lung Cancer on Female Smokers

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 effect that smoking has on women and the devastation that lung cancer can have on the female body.

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Women and Lung Cancer

Smoking rates among women have declined since the 1960s, women continue to smoke cigarettes, hookahs, pipes, cigars, bidis, and e-cigarettes. Today millions more women are smoke-free than 30 years ago. In 1985, 28% of adult women in the United States reported smoking.1 In 2012, that percentage had dropped to 16% of adult women.2 The landmark Surgeon General’s 1964 report, Smoking and Health, was the first federal report to highlight harmful effects of smoking during pregnancy and the first federal report to identify lung cancer as a probable result of smoking in women. The highest smoking rate among American women was in 1963, when 34% were smokers.3

Lung cancer (both small cell and non-small cell) is the second most common cancer in both men and women (not counting skin cancer). In men, prostate cancer is more common, while in women breast cancer is more common. The American Cancer Society’s estimates for lung cancer in the United States for 2021 are:


  • About 235,760 new cases of lung cancer (119,100 in men and 116,660 in women)
  • About 131,880 deaths from lung cancer (69,410 in men and 62,470 in women)


Overall, the chance that a man will develop lung cancer in his lifetime is about 1 in 15; for a woman, the risk is about 1 in 174.

Results from a comprehensive study using a large French population-based case–control study which compared the lung cancer risk associated with cigarette smoking by gender found that heavy smoking might confer to women a higher risk of lung cancer as compared with men5.

Today smokers have a greater risk for lung cancer today than they did in 1964, even though they smoke fewer cigarettes. One reason may be changes in how cigarettes are made and what chemicals they contain6.

On a positive note, the number of deaths from lung cancer continues to drop due to people stopping smoking and advances in early detection and treatment.

The Importance of Early-Stage Detection


There are no simple tricks to beating lung cancer.  However, a few simple habits can help save a life.


  • Stop smoking or allowing yourself to be exposed to smoke
  • Be aware of the symptoms including shortness of breath, coughing up blood, wheezing, chest pains, breathing difficulties, or burning sensations around the chest
  • Rapid, unexplained weight loss
  • Hoarse voice
  • Constant fatigue
  • Coughing fits
  • See and consult with your family doctor regularly

Importance of Early-Stage Detection

Cancer kills and life expectancy varies dramatically depending on the stage of the cancer and how fast it is caught. If lung cancer is found at an earlier stage, when it is small and before it has spread, it is more likely to be treated successfully. Surgery is the primary treatment for early-stage non-small cell lung cancer. Up to 80% of non-small cell lung cancer cases can be cured by surgery, depending upon the size of the tumor and if cancer cells have spread to other parts of the organ or the body7.

Early detection is essential to successful treatment and management. The more you know and the earlier you detect potential cancers, the better your chances of survival. BioMark Diagnostics specializes in early detection of hard to detect and treat cancers through its patented liquid biopsy assays.

BioMark Diagnostics is developing a patented liquid biopsy and metabolomic assay which is a simple, inexpensive, and accurate early-stage lung cancer detection solution. The test is done on a sample of blood to look for cancer biomarkers or metabolites. This teat can also be used to help plan treatment or to find out how well treatment is working or if cancer has come back.

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Cancer is too important to ignore. November is Lung Cancer Awareness Month. Share this article with someone you care about.

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  1. CDC/NCHS, Table 54 (page 1 of 2). Current cigarette smoking among adults aged 18 and over, by sex, race, and age: United States, selected years 1965–2012
  2. CDC/NCHS, Table 54 (page 1 of 2). Current cigarette smoking among adults aged 18 and over, by sex, race, and age: United States, selected years 1965–2012
  3. OSG, Smoking and Health: A Report of the Surgeon General
  5. Br J Cancer. 2014 Mar 4; 110(5): 1385–1391
  6. U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. The Health Consequences of Smoking—50 Years of Progress: A Report of the Surgeon General. Atlanta: U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, National Center for Chronic Disease Prevention and Health Promotion, Office on Smoking and Health, 2014 [2021 March 23]
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