November is Lung Cancer Awareness Month. Lung cancer is by far the leading cause of cancer death among men and women. Lung cancer deaths make up almost 25% of all cancer deaths, killing more people than colon, breast and prostate cancers combined. Cases of women developing lung cancer are on the rise. To help spread awareness, we would like to share some facts and information about this disease.

Risk factors for lung cancer are similar for men and women. They include:

  • Smoking and exposure to secondhand smoke
  • A family history or personal history of lung disease or lung cancer
  • An exposure to asbestos, radon, or smoke
  • A poor diet

Facts about Lung Cancer and Women:

  • In 2020, there have been 112,520 new cases of lung cancer in women with 63,220 deaths.
  • Average age of people diagnosed is 70 years old.
  • Women tend to be slightly younger than men when diagnosed.
  • A woman has a 1 in 17 chance of developing lung cancer in her lifetime.
  • The majority of people diagnosed today are non-smokers. Most people are former smokers, never smoked, and NOT current smokers.
  • Women have a higher survival rate than men at all stages of lung cancer.
  • Some studies also suggest women are more susceptible to the carcinogens in cigarettes and develop lung cancer after fewer years of smoking.
  • Women historically respond to several types of chemotherapy to treat lung cancer better than men.

Lung Cancer Symptoms in Women:

Lung cancer symptoms are similar in men and women, but the rates do differ. Over the last 40 years, lung cancer cases among men have decreased by 35%. In women, those rates have risen by 87%. Researchers have identified several genes which may explain the differing rates among men and women.

Below are symptoms you should be aware of:

  • Cough that does not go away
  • Wheezing
  • Chest pain and trouble breathing
  • Coughing up blood
  • Hoarseness
  • Loss of appetite and weight loss for no reason
  • Feeling very tired
  • Shoulder or bone pain
  • Pneumonia or bronchitis
  • Yellowing of the skin or eyes
  • Headaches, seizures, confusion
  • Enlarged lymph nodes in the neck

If you are experiencing any of these symptoms, submit an online appointment request or call 310-829-8618 to discuss your concerns with one of our physicians.

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Lung Cancer and Young Adults

Unfortunately, lung cancer doesn’t usually cause symptoms until the cancer has spread, which makes it difficult to treat. Lung cancer screening is recommended for adult’s age 55-80 years who have smoked at least 1 pack per day for 30 years, current smokers, or former smokers who quit smoking within the last 15 years, if you have had radiation therapy in the past, or a family history of lung cancer.

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Protect your health by getting screened or by seeking help from our thoracic care team at our center of Minimally Invasive Chest Surgery and Thoracic Surgical Oncology.

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Help Spread Awareness of Lung Cancer While Social Distancing and Staying Safe!

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About the Author

Dr. Osita Onugha

Osita Onugha, M.D., MBA, is the Assistant Professor of Minimally Invasive Chest Surgery and Thoracic Surgical Oncology at the Saint John’s Cancer Institute. Dr. Onugha is a board-certified surgeon and assistant professor of thoracic surgery at the Saint John’s Cancer Institute. Dr. Onugha practices all aspects of thoracic surgery, including procedures for benign and malignant conditions of the lung, esophagus and mediastinum. Learn More About Dr. Osita Onugha.