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Article in Newspaper - 11/07/05


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Study to Explore Lung Cancer in Women, Men

Florida Today - 11/07/05

Are women really more susceptible to a certian type of lung cancer than men- even if they don't smoke?

That question is at the heart of a new multicenter study that hopes to answer the question, as well as determine what factors might contribute to gender discrepancies in the development of this disease.

"There's long been a controversy over whether women are more susceptible to lung cancer than men, but its really not clear," said Christine Ambrosone, a molecular epidemiologist and one of the coordinators of the study by the Southwest Oncology Group. "It may not be the case."

Ambrosone, who chairs the department of epidemiology at the Roswell Park Cancer Institute in Buffalo, New York, said the study will pose two central hypotheses: whether women metabolize tobacco smoke differently than men; or if women's hormonal differences account for differences in a typically earlier onset of the disease.

Lunf cancer is the leading cause of cancer death in both men and women in the United States, killing one in three men diagnosed with cancer and one in four women. The American Cancer Society estimates that 90,490 men and 73,020 women will die of cancer in 2005.

The Southwest cancer group, a network of more than 5,000 physician-researchers nationwide, plans to recruit 720 men and women newly diagnosed with non-small cell lung cancer - the most common form of lung cancer- to participate in the study over the next three years.

A third of the study group will be the non-smoking men and women. The rest will be smokers.

Ambrosone said researchers intend to examine lung tissue for genetic mutations that may play a role, in addition to smoking, to the development of lung cancer.

Also, she said, the study will look at whether hormones, in particular, estrogen, influence tumor growth in both women who smoke and those who are non smokers.

"We see estrogen receptors on tumors in the breast," she said. "And it looks like lung tissues also have them.," as well as Her-2 amplification.

Overexpression of the Her-2 gene, which leads to too much of the gene's protein, is found in about 25 percent of women whose advanced breast cancers have spread to other sites in the body.

According to Ambrosone, women tend to develop a particular subtype of non-small cell lung cancer far more frequently than men and at a younger age. They also are more likely to have a close relative with the disease.

While some of the rise in lung cancer incidence among women can be attributed to an increase in smoking, Ambrose said, the trend is seen in women who are non-smokers, as well, and the study should help determine why.

To Participate:

Cancer patients who wish to participate should not have started their treatment, which can interfere with the study's research goals. TO find the nearest institution conducting the study, contact the Southwest Oncology Group at 210-677-8808 or go to


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