09:27pm Saturday 07 December 2019

New Brigham and Women’s Hospital Report Brings Lung Cancer in Women Out of the Shadows

Some important statistics:

  • Rates of lung cancer in women are rising, particularly in women who’ve never smoked.
  • More than 60 percent of new lung cancer patients have either never smoked or already quit, and the majority of those who have never smoked are women.
  • Women are more likely to die of lung cancer than any other cancer, including breast, ovarian and cervical cancers, yet few women are aware of the statistics. 
  • Women with lung cancer who have never smoked outnumber their male counterparts three to one. 
  • Research on sex differences in lung cancer is providing new insights into the disease.
  • There is accumulating evidence that hormonal and genetic factors influence the development of lung cancer. 
  • The lack of funding for lung cancer research is preventing progress on the disease.

Lung cancer is the least funded of all the major cancers in terms of research dollars per death.  Inadequate funding for lung cancer is largely the result of two factors: 1) Lung cancer carries a stigma unheard of with other deadly diseases; and 2) Because there are so few survivors, lung cancer advocacy has not gained traction as a movement demanding attention and research dollars as effectively as other cancer lobbies.    

“This report places a bright spotlight on this deadly disease – particularly its impact on women – and summarizes existing research on sex and gender differences in lung cancer.  We believe that a better understanding of the roles that genetic, hormonal, behavioral and environmental factors play in this lethal disease will advance preventative, diagnostic and therapeutic practice and improve outcomes,” said Yolonda Colson, MD, PhD, cardiothoracic surgeon at Brigham and Women’s Hospital and founder of the Women’s Lung Cancer Forum.  

“Out of the Shadows” highlights gaps in current knowledge about lung cancer’s lethality, summarizes existing research on sex and gender differences in lung cancer, identifies shortcomings in current research funding that would provide better understanding of these biological differences and recommends steps to reduce the burden of this disease in women and men.  
Lung Cancer Alliance (LCA), the leading national organization dedicated to providing patient support and advocacy for those living with or at risk for lung cancer, hailed the report.  “This is a wake-up call for women and a must read for anyone concerned about lung cancer and its impact on women – and our society as a whole,” said Laurie Fenton Ambrose, LCA President and CEO.  “We want to galvanize women to demand a more comprehensive and compassionate response from our public health and policy community for all those affected by this killer.  Lung cancer cannot remain in the shadow of other high-profile diseases any longer.”  


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