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Need Increased Funding for Research on Women & LC


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29 Sep 2007

The Society for Women's Health Research gathered three lung cancer experts on Capitol Hill on September 17, 2007 to inform Congress on the need for increased funding to research lung cancer and its impact on women.

"We focused on lung cancer today because lung cancer is the leading cause of cancer death for both women and men in America," said Phyllis Greenberger, M.S.W, president and CEO of the Society, a Washington, D.C. based advocacy organization. "A growing body of research is showing differences in susceptibility, progression and responsiveness to treatment in lung cancer between women and men."

Laurie Fenton Ambrose, president and CEO of the Lung Cancer Alliance said, "More people are recognizing lung cancer, which has been stigmatized for so long as a self-imposed condition, as a disease. That's the good news." The bad news is that the five-year survival rate has only grown from 12 percent in 1971 to 15 percent today.

According to the Lung Cancer Alliance, lung cancer kills over 70,800 women a year, 30,000 more than breast cancer. Yet lung cancer research is severely under funded. In 2006, the National Cancer Institute spent approximately $13,519 for research on breast cancer per death compared to only $1,638 on research per lung cancer death.

Joan Schiller, M.D., chief of the Division of Hematology and Oncology and deputy director of the Simmons Comprehensive Cancer Center at the University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center in Dallas, pointed to the changing face of lung cancer.

The death of actress and nonsmoker Dana Reeve in 2006 drew attention to the disturbing fact that nonsmokers account for 13-15 percent of new lung cancer cases each year. Unfortunately, there is little information on why nonsmokers develop lung cancer. Air pollution and exposure radon or asbestos have been linked to lung cancer risk, but most experts believe that second hand smoke is the leading risk for lung cancer among individuals who have never smoked.

There is conflicting data about whether women nonsmokers are more susceptible to lung cancer than men, but a study in the Journal of Clinical Oncology last February found that about 20 percent of lung cancer cases in women occur in nonsmokers, compared to eight percent in men.

Research is underway to examine whether the biological traits of being a woman or a man impacts lung cancer susceptibility.

Jill Siegfried, Ph.D., professor and vice chair of pharmacology at the University of Pittsburg School of Medicine and co-director of the Lung and Esophageal Cancer program at the Pittsburgh Cancer Institute, spoke at the briefing about her research involving estrogen's role in lung cancer development.

"We've learned that lung tumors have the ability to use estrogen pathways to stimulate growth," Siegfried said. "Anti-estrogens and aromatase inhibitors, drugs that prevent the body from responding to or making estrogen, may benefit lung cancer patients who have an active estrogen pathway."

All of the experts agreed that more research is needed so that we can save lives with improved diagnosis and treatment.

Society for Women's Health Research (SWHR)

1025 Connecticut Ave. NW, Ste. 701

Washington, DC 20036

United States



Article URL: http://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/84050.php

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