Lung cancer in women is a 21st century epidemic

cancer is caused by cigarette smoke, yet despite all we know about the health hazards of smoking, one in four women continue to smoke," says Dr. Patel. Following the increase in tobacco use in American women over the past century, the death rate from lung cancer increased 600 percent from 1930 to 2003.

Although smoking prevalence in men has decreased by nearly 50 percent from its peak in the 1960s, smoking prevalence in women has decreased by only 25 percent in the same period. In recent years, smoking rates among women in the United States have remained stable. However, rates among women in Africa and Asia have risen significantly. "Attacking the rising use of tobacco among women is one of the greatest disease prevention opportunities in the world today," says Dr. Patel.

Dr. Patel's paper reports that the improved survival of women with lung cancer has important implications in the design and interpretation of lung cancer trials. "When a clinical trial of today is compared to one from 15 years ago, the increase in the proportion of women participants because of their increase in rates of lung cancer will cause survival improvement, regardless of treatment effect. Future trials would benefit from stratification by gender," says Dr. Patel.


Contact: Amanda Widtfeldt
Northwestern Memorial Hospital

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