Women & Lung Cancer
an Increasing Risk
Non-smokers account for 10 percent of the total number of Americans diagnosed with lung cancer each year. Surprised? Moreover, one in five women with lung cancer have never smoked.
While the number of smokers in the United States continues to decline, the diagnosis rate of lung cancer among women is increasing.
Smoking only presents ONE risk factor for lung cancer. Genetics and gene mutations also are believed to play a role. Other risks include exposure to secondhand smoke, radon gas, asbestos and air pollution.
“Women with early-stage lung cancer may experience symptoms that are often dismissed as a normal part of a busy life,” said Chip Reninger, MD, director of UPMC Hillman Cancer Center, medical oncologist and hematologist.
While lung cancer symptoms vary from person to person, they can include:
Cough | Cough to Bloods | Chest Pain | Wheezing
Weigth loss or loss of appetite. | Voice Changes including hoarsness.
A cough that doesn’t go away, gets worse over time or produces blood or rust-colored spit.
Constant chest pain and shortness of breath, often made worse by deep breathing, coughing or laughing.
OTHER SYMPTOMS INCLUDE:
– Arm or shoulder pain
– Repeated episodes of pneumonia or bronchitis
– Swelling of the face and neck
– Fatigue or weakness including hoarseness.
“Lung cancer screening is a valuable tool for patients at high risk for lung cancer,” says Troy Moritz, DO, FACOS, thoracic surgeon and medical director of the UPMC Pulmonary Nodule Clinic at UPMC Pinnacle. “A low-dose CT scan offers the best chance of finding lung cancer in its earliest, most curable stages.”
UPMC Pinnacle has the only multidisciplinary Pulmonary Nodule Clinic in the region. “Our unique team approach provides patients with an individualized care plan and reduces the time from detection to treatment,” says Dr. Moritz.
“Staying up to date on the latest lung cancer research allows us to provide the most effective, leading-edge treatments for all our patients, particularly women where many of these findings are new,” said Dr. Reninger.
In recent years, cancer researchers have devoted more attention to non-smoking patients and research is being done to determine the role of estrogen in female lung cancer patients, which may affect treatment options and mortality rates.
Talk to your doctor if a lung screening is right for you.