Lung Cancer Awareness Month: How Lung Cancer Affects Women, Its Symptoms And FAQ’s For Timely Treatment

Lung cancer, if detected in advanced stages, can be challenging to treat. Hence, symptoms should not be ignored

Vani Malik
Written by: Vani MalikUpdated at: Nov 20, 2020 15:14 IST
Lung Cancer Awareness Month: How Lung Cancer Affects Women, Its Symptoms And FAQ’s For Timely Treatment

One of the leading causes of deaths due to cancer is lung cancer across the globe, and in India, lung cancer is the second most common cancer affecting men and the fifth most common among women. But it has increasingly become a particular concern for women. Women have never smoked in the same numbers as men, yet they account for nearly half the new cases. However, Lung cancer can be prevented if you reduce exposure to the risk factor. “Women and men share the same risk factors, the greatest of which is exposure to tobacco smoke. But among nonsmokers, more women than men develop the disease,” says Dr Sameeksha Dubey, Consultant Medical Oncologist, Nanavati Super Speciality Hospital and Holy Family Hospital, Bandra, Mumbai in the spirit of raising awareness on lung cancer.


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Why A Rise In Lung Cancer In Women? 

Recently there has been a spike in smoking in women, and this is mainly because of the good lifestyle ignorance like smoking, passive smoking, exposed to pollutants that can also cause changes in the DNA of lung cells. These changes lead to abnormal growth of cells in the lungs and cause cancer. Some common symptoms of Lung Cancer in women are: 

  • Hoarseness in voice
  • Pain in the chest 
  • Shortness of breath and unexplained fatigue 
  • Cough that keeps getting worse or remains for a longer duration 
  • Cough with blood or brownish sputum 
  • Weight loss without any reason 

Even though there have been no specific studies that state how lung cancer is different in women as compared to men, but there could be various factors that can be taken in account: 

  • Genetic factors
  • The age of smoking
  • Hormonal factors, as mainly because women are the one’s giving birth to a new life. 

One of the largest risk factors of lung cancer in women remains to be smoking, also a reason for most of the cancer-related deaths in women. Also, as per a study mentioned in the Harvard Health Publishing Harvard Medical School, regarding Lung cancer in women, the role of estrogen plays a big role in influencing the tumour. Evidence shows that estrogen makes women more prone and sensitive to carcinogens.


Why Is Early Detection Of Lung Cancer Essential? 

Telling us the importance of early screening of cancer, Dr Sameeksha says, women who are at high risk for lung cancer, early detection can help them receive treatment in more treatable stages, and treatment depends on the stage and type of cancer. The two main types are small-cell lung cancer (SCLC) and non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC). These types are diagnosed based on how the cells look under a microscope. More than 80% of all lung cancers belong to the non-small cell type. Usually, Chemo-radiotherapy is the treatment option available for most cases of small cell lung cancer. For non-small lung cancer, surgical treatment with chemotherapy is an option.

How To Prevent Lung Cancer? 

While poor lifestyle habits and air pollution increases the risk of lung cancer, but it is always preventable with few lifestyle changes for cancer management. To reduce the risk of lung cancer, it is best to quit smoking and do not expose yourself to tobacco smoke. When air quality is terrible, ensure to wear a mask outdoors and keep doing regular breathing exercises that will help keep the lungs healthy and clean. 


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Lung cancer is a severe and potentially deadly disease that affects a person’s ability to breath. That is why early diagnosis is crucial. Women must talk to their doctor who can provide a more accurate diagnosis, considering the individual’s overall health. If you are a smoker and feel persistent cough, chest pain and shortness of breath, consult with a doctor immediately.

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