Lung cancer kills more women in the U.S. than breast cancer and all other gynecologic cancers combined. According to the American Cancer Society (ACS), nearly 70,000 American women are expected to die of lung cancer this year compared with about 40,000 who will succumb to breast cancer.
Although women have the highest chance of being diagnosed with breast cancer, they have a larger probability of dying from lung cancer than from any other cancer. However, lung cancer is not on their radar screen because it has been seen as a man's disease for so long.
In the past, men smoked far more cigarettes, but in recent decades, women have almost caught up: 21 percent of U.S. woman and 25 percent of men now smoke. Some studies suggest that women who smoke are more susceptible than male smokers to the carcinogens in cigarettes.
So what can you do to protect yourself against lung disease? Don't smoke and avoid people who do. The ACS advises smokers to quit and nonsmokers to avoid breathing cigarette smoke. Also, find out about cancer-causing chemicals you may be exposed to at work and take steps to protect yourself. You might want to consider testing radon levels in your home.
Do not ignore possible symptoms such as persistent cough, chest pain, often made worse by deep breathing, hoarseness, weight loss and loss of appetite, bloody phlegm, shortness of breath, recurring infections such as bronchitis and pneumonia and wheezing.
If you experience any of these symptoms, don't ignore them, talk to your health care provider immediately. Early stage lung cancer is easier to cure if detected early.