Lung Cancer Facts to Know

1. Cigarette smoking is responsible for 79 percent of lung cancers among women. Those who smoke two or more packs of cigarettes a day have lung cancer mortality rates 12 to 25 times higher than that of nonsmokers.

2. In 2002 there were about 169,400 new cases of lung cancer in the United States: 90,200 among men and 79,200 among women, according to the American Cancer Society.


3. About 154,900 people died of this disease in 2002: 89,200 men and 65,700 women.

4. Since 1950, lung cancer mortality rates for U.S. women have increased an estimated 600 percent. In 1987, lung cancer surpassed breast cancer to become the leading cause of cancer death among U.S. women.

5. Persistent cough, sputum streaked with blood, chest pain and recurring pneumonia or bronchitis may sometimes be signs of lung cancer.

6. Risk factors for getting lung cancer include exposure to certain industrial substances, such as arsenic, some organic chemicals, radon and asbestos (particularly for people who smoke); radiation exposure from occupational, medical and environmental sources; air pollution; scarring in the lung from prior tuberculosis infection; and second-hand tobacco smoke.

7. If a woman stops smoking when precancerous changes are found, damaged lung tissue often returns to normal.

8. Chemotherapy alone or combined with radiation is the treatment of choice for most cases of small cell lung cancer. A large percentage of patients who have this type of treatment experience remission, which in some cases is long lasting.

9. The five-year relative survival rate for all stages combined is 14 percent. The survival rate is 40-70 percent for cases detected when the disease is still localized, but only 15 percent of lung cancers are discovered that early.

Copyright 2003

National Women's Health Resource Center Inc. (NWHRC).