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More women developing lung cancer before 50, study finds

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http://www.chron.com/cs/CDA/ssistory.mp ... an/3198739

May 25, 2005, 11:23PM

More women developing lung cancer before 50, study finds

Yet they have a better chance of being disease-free five years later


Knight Ridder Tribune News

DETROIT - Doctors are discovering gender differences in lung cancer.

Not only are women catching up to men in getting the disease, they are more likely to develop lung cancer before 50, according to a comprehensive analysis of lung cancer in the United States.

Yet women have a better chance of being free of cancer five years later, at every stage of diagnosis.

The study by the University of Michigan and Wayne State Medical School researchers was published in the March issue of the journal Chest.

It analyzed 22,572 cancer patients, 36 percent of them women, in the federal cancer registry known as SEER (Surveillance, Epidemiology and End Results).

Overall, diagnoses of lung cancer typically occur in women and men women at about the same age: 66, the study found.

But 8.6 percent of women were diagnosed before 50, compared with 6.9 percent of men.

Women also tend to have different kinds of lung cancer. More women are diagnosed with adenocarcinomas, nonsmall-cell lung cancers found in the outer reaches of the lungs.

They are most likely linked to the use of filtered cigarettes, says Dr. Gregory Kalemkerian, senior author of the study.

Adenocarcinomas accounted for 44.7 percent of the diagnoses of women in the study.

Small-cell cancers, those in hormonal cells in the lungs, accounted for 22.6 percent.

By comparison, squamous cell carcinomas, another type of nonsmall-cell cancer, found in lung airways, accounted for 36.3 percent of lung cancers in men, followed by adenocarcinomas, diagnosed in 33.2 percent.

Other findings:

• Incidence of lung cancer in men peaked in 1984, at 72.5 cases per 100,000 people. It declined to 47 for each 100,000 by 1999. By comparison, incidence rates for women peaked at 33.1 per 100,000 in 1991, and held steady between 30.2 and 32.3 per 100,000 from 1992 to 1999.

• Metastatic disease was the most common stage at diagnosis for men (43.4 percent) and women (43.9 percent).

Kalemkerian says that though the study has limitations, it provides good information for future analyses of gender differences in lung cancer.

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