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Smoking Still Leading Lung Cancer Cause, but Fewer in U.S. are Puffing

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Cancer related image Photo: Getty Images

For the first time since cancer statistics have been monitored, fewer U.S. women are getting lung cancer and dying from the disease.

According to the Annual Report to the Nation on the Status of Cancer, between 2003-2008, lung cancer rates among U.S. women began falling after steadily increasing for decades. The decrease comes nearly a decade after rates began dropping for men.

The report, coauthored by researchers from the North American Association of Central Cancer Registries, the National Cancer Institute, part of the National Institutes of Health, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), and American Cancer Society, points out the drop in the number of lung cancer cases corresponds closely with smoking patterns across the nation.

Lower lung cancer rates were visible in 35 states for men, but only six states for women, which were California, Florida, Nevada, Oregon, Texas, and Washington, the report said.

In the West, where smoking prevalence is lower among men and women than in other regions, lung cancer incidence is decreasing faster than other parts of the country. Studies show declines in lung cancer rates can be seen as soon as five years after smoking rates decline.

Among women, lung cancer rates are still highest among white women (55.9 out of 100,000) compared to other racial groups.

Several public policy strategies are responsible for the decline according to the report, which are the latest figures available. These policies include higher tobacco prices, hard–hitting media campaigns, 100 percent smoke-free policies, and easily accessible quitting treatments and services for those who want to quit.

What is Lung Cancer?
Most lung cancer is tumors that start in the cells lining the bronchial tubes, a part of the human respiratory system. When cancer starts in the lungs, it's called primary lung cancer. If cancer starts somewhere else and spreads to the lungs, it’s called metastatic cancer to the lungs.

There are two main types of lung cancer: Non-small cell lung cancer and small cell lung cancer. Of the two types, non-small cell is the most common.

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