Though we often place men and women into the same pot when we talk about lung cancer, to do so isn't really any different than saying we wear the same style clothes. And I'd have to argue that understanding the differences in lung cancer between the sexes is more important than a fashion show.
A new study looked at over 40,000 people in the Cancer Registry of Norway, with the intent of comparing differences in lung cancer incidence and survival between men and women.
During the period of time from 1988 until 2007, the incidence of lung cancer increased much more for women than it did for men. Out of an overall increase in lung cancer cases of 65% during this time, the yearly increase in incidence for women was 4.9%, versus only a 1.4% increase in men.
But before becoming histrionic as a woman looking at this study, I was instead concerned for the men. Women were more likely to be diagnosed in the earlier more treatable stages of the disease. And - at each stage of lung cancer - the survival rate was higher for women.
What about in the United States? Are the statistics similar to those in Norway? When it comes to survival rates, the answer is yes. Women appear to fair better. But unlike the increase in men in Norway, the incidence of lung cancer has been declining in men in the United States in recent years. For women, however, it just now appears that the increase is slowing down and stabilizing.
Photo: National Cancer Institute, Rhoda Baer (photographer)
Sagerup, C. et al. Sex-specific trends in lung cancer incidence and survival: a population study of 40,118 cases. Thorax. 2011 Jan 2. (Epub ahead of print).