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Ten Things Every Woman Should Know About Lung Cancer

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Cancer related image Photo: Getty Images
  • 1. Lung cancer affects women differently than men, and young women (under 40) are at greater risk for developing lung cancer than young men.
  • 2. More women die of lung cancer than any other cancer, including breast cancer, ovarian cancer and uterine cancers combined. Smoking is the primary cause of lung cancer, so if you smoke, quit.
  • 3. Your risk of lung cancer continues to decline with every year you don't smoke. However, if you used to smoke, you remain at increased risk for lung cancer for at least 20 years after you quit.
  • 4. Radon is the second leading cause of lung cancer, so if you live in an area with high levels of radium in the bedrock, have your house tested for radon exposure. To find out more, go to http://www.epa.gov/iaq/radon/zonemap.html .
  • 5. Risk factors for lung cancer other than smoking include lung scarring from infection with tuberculosis and occupational or environmental exposures to radon, second-hand smoke, radiation, asbestos, air pollution, arsenic and some organic chemicals.
  • 6. Symptoms of lung cancer may include a cough that won't go away, chest, shoulder or back pain that won't go away, unexplained wheezing, shortness of breath, hoarseness, coughing up blood, swelling in the neck and face, difficulty swallowing, weight loss and loss of appetite, increasing fatigue and weakness, and recurring respiratory infections such as pneumonia.
  • 7. Lung cancer, like any other cancer, is most treatable when detected early. If you smoke now or smoked in the past, or have a family history of lung cancer, talk to your doctor about screening tests available to you.
  • 8. Although lung cancer is a serious disease, women typically fare better than men after treatment for lung cancer.
  • 9. Eating a well balanced diet rich in fruits and vegetables helps reduce the risk of lung cancer.
  • 10. Lung cancer research is significantly under-funded, despite the fact that lung cancer is the number one cancer killer of women in the U.S. Less money is spent on lung cancer research than on the next three top cancer killers.

Add a Comment2 Comments

I agree with the comment Pat made. We need to speak out and raise money and awareness for lung cancer. Until we find a cure, prevention is the only option. Early detection is the key---get a CT Spiral Scan.Lung cancer is curable in its early stages. Get a ct spiral scan for early detection. Many hospitals have programs with reduced rates for the scan. The scan could have saved my sister. When my sister died of lung cancer I started a memorial garden. The garden has helped me deal with the loss in ways I couldn't imagine. I've taken over 5000 pictures of the beautiful blooms inspired by my sister. Many people after viewing the garden are leaving comments and making dedications to loved ones. Please visit and share the garden magic. http://www.mysisterdalesgarden.

October 8, 2010 - 11:26am
HERWriter Guide

Lynette - Thank you for this important information. I hope it will get the attention of readers who may be under the false impression that the greatest health risk to women is dying from breast cancer, a statement that is sometimes tossed around loosely during "awareness" activities.

We need to know, as you stated, that more women die of lung cancer than any other cancer, including breast cancer, ovarian cancer and uterine cancers combined.

It is also important for readers to know that non-smokers also get lung cancer.

A friend of mine, a non-smoker, was diagnosed with lung cancer about six years ago and immediately fired by her employer. She has been repeatedly subjected to judgmental statements regarding smoking although she has never smoked in her life. What's truly sad is that she hasn't gotten anything close to the level of support and sisterhood that patients with other cancers receive. She decided to speak out publicly and was recently interviewed for a national magazine. We need to do more to assist her, and others like her, regardless of whether they ever smoked or not. All cancer patients deserve our support.
Take care,

October 7, 2010 - 6:06pm
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We value and respect our HERWriters' experiences, but everyone is different. Many of our writers are speaking from personal experience, and what's worked for them may not work for you. Their articles are not a substitute for medical advice, although we hope you can gain knowledge from their insight.