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Women and Lung Cancer


RandyW

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Smoking Not Only Lung Cancer Risk Factor

Another is just being female. Dana Reeve's recent death has more women talking about it.

Winston-Salem, NC -- Millions of Americans smoke, and many are trying to quit.

Dusty Donaldson says "quitting smoking was very difficult for me, and it was one of the most difficult things I ever did."

She was in her twenties the last time she picked up a cigarette. Now 51, doctors consider her a non-smoker, with no increased risk of lung cancer.

"Lung cancer just kind of took me for a loop."

Last September her doctors found a mass in her lungs.

Wake Forest University Baptist Medical Center's Dr. Timothy Oaks removed the tumor from Donaldson's right lung.

"She's gone through her chemo and has done very well from that, and we would expect she would have a good long term survival from this."

Though pleased with her treatment, Donaldson didn't understand why she, a 26 year non-smoker, was going through all this.

Dr. Tony Miller was Donaldson's oncologist. "We know that there is a population of patients out there who never smoked and don't realize that they're at risk, and they still can get lung cancer. women particularly."

In fact the type of cancer Donaldson had is often associated with non-smoking women.

"When you take all women who come with a diagnosed lung cancer, maybe one in five will have no smoking history," said Dr. Miller.

It was a wake up call for Donaldson in more than one way. She wants others to know anyone can get lung cancer, and she wants people to think before they ask the question 'Did you smoke?'

"People who have lung cancer whether they smoked or not, they really ought to be treated with compassion rather than judgment, and that question alone can come across as judgmental," says Donaldson.

It's something she says she still has to remind herself.

Doctors treated Donaldson at Wake Forest University Baptist Medical Center's Comprehensive Cancer Center.

Her cancer was in a very early stage when they found it. As lung cancer progresses it is difficult or impossible to treat with surgery.

WFMY News 2

Rosemary Plybon , Web Producer

created: 4/7/2006 6:06:50 AM

Last updated: 4/7/2006 7:15:43 PM

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