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Women at lung cancer risk may lack symptoms- study

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http://today.reuters.com/news/newsArtic ... R-LUNG.xml

Mon May 8, 2006 6:28pm ET

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - A significant proportion of women with newly diagnosed lung cancer had normal lung function tests, U.S. researchers reported on Monday.

The finding means that women who lack symptoms of lung disease should not automatically be considered free of lung cancer risk, they said.

And many more men than women who had been diagnosed with lung cancer were found to have chronic obstructive pulmonary disease -- a permanent reduction of lung function considered by many doctors to be a first indication of cancer.

"These findings suggest that the susceptibility patterns among women may be different compared with men," said Dr. Raghu Loganathan of Lincoln Medical and Mental Health Center in the Bronx in New York, who led the study.

"Using the presence of COPD alone as a criterion to determine a patient's risk may miss women with lung cancer."

Lung cancer is by far the deadliest cancer in the world.

The American Cancer Society says that in 2006 there will be an estimated 174,470 new cases of lung cancer and it will kill 162,460 people this year in the United States alone.

Only 15 percent of lung cancer patients survive for more than five years, in part because it causes few symptoms early on and most people are not diagnosed until after the tumors have spread.

Writing in the journal Chest, Loganathan and colleagues from Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center in New York tested for COPD in 151 men and 143 women, all newly diagnosed with lung cancer. Continued...

They found 72.8 percent of the men had COPD compared with 52.4 percent of the women. Among the 87 percent of the patients who were smokers, nearly 75 percent of the men but just 57 percent of the women had COPD.

"The absence of COPD should not lower the risk in a female patient who is otherwise considered to be at increased likelihood for developing lung cancer," Loganathan said in a statement.

"Physicians must consider additional (and well-established) risk factors, such as smoking history and age of the patient, when contemplating lung cancer screening."

Lung cancer screening is currently not standard. But people are often screened if they have certain risk factors -- notably if they are heavy smokers over the age of 50, or if they have been exposed to asbestos or radiation.

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