Lung Cancer May Differ by Gender

Women often get the disease in the absence of other lung trouble

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THURSDAY, May 11, 2006 (HealthDay News) -- Women may experience lung cancer in ways that differ from men, a new study finds.

Many women recently diagnosed with lung cancer have normal lung function and better results on lung function tests than newly diagnosed male lung cancer patients, say researchers reporting in the May issue of the journal Chest.

The U.S. study also found that, among lung cancer patients, many more men than women develop chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), a well-known independent risk factor for lung cancer that progressively and permanently reduces lung function.

"These findings suggest that the susceptibility patterns among women may be different compared with men. Using the presence of COPD alone as a criterion to determine a person's risk may miss women with lung cancer," researcher Dr. Raghu Loganathan of the Lincoln Medical and Mental Health Center, New York City, said in a prepared statement.

The study included 151 male and 143 female patients newly diagnosed with lung cancer. At the time of diagnosis, nearly 73 percent of the men presented with COPD, compared with over 52 percent of women. Among the lung cancer patients who smoked, nearly 75 percent of men and just over 57 percent of women had COPD.

Overall, older age and smoking were strongly associated with COPD. Both current and formers smokers were about 10 times more likely to have COPD than nonsmokers, the study said.

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

He and his colleagues also suggested that gender-based differences in spirometry testing (to determine pulmonary function) should be considered in creating strategies for lung cancer screening.

More information

The U.S. National Cancer Institute has more about lung cancer.

SOURCE: American College of Chest Physicians, news release, May 8, 2006

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