By Dr. Rajshekhar C Jaka, Oncology,
Recent research has brought to light evidence suggesting that women are more vulnerable to lung cancer. Between a man and a woman smoking the same number of cigarettes over the same period of time, the woman is more likely to be diagnosed with cancer.
The study was conducted by experts who analyzed the genetic information derived from a pool of 3000 and more lung cancer patients. It was found that women develop a mutation that leads to lung cancer. This variation of the gene causes the smoke of the cigarettes to be more harmful for women.
The symptoms of lung cancer also manifest themselves differently in women than they do in men. The primary symptoms for women are fatigue and a sense of breathlessness. It, more often than not, is mistakenly attributed to weight gain or advanced age. And since women rarely contract a form of lung cancer that causes blood in cough, they remain undiagnosed for much longer.
Smoking is one of the major causes of lung cancer in both men and women. However, a majority of the women who have developed lung cancer have been non-smokers for most of their lives. Secondhand smoke and exposure to radon and other environmental factors may cause lung cancer in women.
The different options for lung cancer treatment can be classified as follows:
- Local Treatments- Including radiation therapy and surgery, these are treatments that are designed to remove the cancerous cells at their source.
- Systematic Treatments- If the cancer cells have spread beyond the lungs then a systematic treatment plan with targeted therapies and immunotherapy is the appropriate choice.
The survival rates for women with lung cancer are higher than those of men. One must however keep in mind the fact that these rates are determined on records of how people have responded to treatments.
Though the number of women who are fatally diagnosed with lung cancer is higher than those diagnosed with breast cancer, it remains a relatively unknown statistic. The differences between lung cancer in men and women is being further researched which is essential for better treatment methods.