Women Smokers Have Higher Risk of Lung Cancer Than Men Smokers

Armen Hareyan's picture

Lung Cancer Death and Smoking

Women who smoke appear to be more susceptible to lung cancer than men who smoke, though women smokers have a lower rate of lung cancer-related death, according to a study in the July 12 issue of JAMA.


In 2006 in the United States, it is estimated that lung cancer will cause 73,020 deaths in women, proportionately only slightly fewer than the estimated 90,470 deaths in men. Lung cancer now accounts for more deaths in women than any other cancer, more even than the second and third cancer killers (breast and colon cancer) combined, according to background information in the article. It has been hypothesized that women are more susceptible to tobacco carcinogens than men, but after diagnosis of lung cancer, they have better survival rates than men.

Claudia I. Henschke, Ph.D., M.D., of Cornell University, New York, and investigators with the International Early Lung Cancer Action Program examined the lung cancer risk of women compared with men, accounting for age and history of smoking, and also compared the rate of fatal outcomes between sexes. The study included 7,498 women and 9,427 men, at least 40 years of age, who had a history of cigarette smoking and were screened for lung cancer in North America between 1993-2005.

Lung cancer was diagnosed in 156 women and 113 men (rates of 2.1 percent and 1.2 percent, respectively). The researchers also found that women had a lower rate of lung cancer-related death, when controlling for pack-years of smoking, disease stage, tumor cell type and resection.