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Report Released on Women and Lung Cancer

The Mary Horrigan Connors Center For Women’s Health and Gender Biology released a report today on women and lung cancer. The report (see PDF), entitled Out of the Shadows: Women and Lung Cancer, comprehensively examines lung cancer and its risk factors related to women, screening, treatment and survival rates, racial and ethnic disparities, and health policy, among other issues. Currently, lung cancer kills more women than breast, ovarian, and uterine cancers combined. Lung cancer first surpassed breast cancer to become the single largest cause of cancer deaths in American women in 1987. 1 in 16 women will be diagnosed with lung cancer in their lifetimes. Of these, 1 in 5 has never smoked. However, the report indicates that “women generally live longer than men at every stage of the disease, regardless of the stage at diagnosis, type of lung cancer, or treatment choice.” A Lung Cancer Alliance fact sheet (see PDF) reports that about 200 women die of lung cancer every day. This year alone, roughly 70,500 women will die from lung cancer in the United States. The Policy Recommendation section of the report says, “the barriers to advances in lung cancer are as much political as scientific. Lung cancer carries a stigma almost unheard of with any other deadly disease, hindering the unconditional support and investment of resources afforded to patients with other serious conditions…Given additional investment, the scientific community could expand efforts to understand the disease so that women and men both may realize lower incidence and improved prognoses. Without dedicated resources, lung cancer will continue to be under-funded relative to other cancers, hampering discoveries that could expand prevention and treatment for this disease.” In a Lung Cancer Alliance press release, eleven medical and women’s groups, including the Feminist Majority Foundation, supported the Out of the Shadows report, saying “We are lending our collective voice to the call to end this deadly disease. Along with every other disease that devastates women, we call upon researchers and the public health community to devote appropriate resources to combat lung cancer. No one deserves to die of lung cancer. No one.” Pending legislation that seeks to combat lung cancer mortality includes a bill introduced by Senator Kay Bailey Hutchinson (R-TX) and sponsored by the late Senator Ted Kennedy (D-MA) entitled the 21st Century Cancer ALERT Act (Access to Life saving, Early detection, Research, and Treatment). This bill would, among other things, modernize methods of studying cancer, make cancer treatment available, and create survivorship programs. Additionally, the Peer Reviewed Lung Cancer Research Program in the Department of Defense was appropriated $15 million for Fiscal Year 2010 to fund the development of materials to recognize, treat, and control early curable lung cancer.

Sources:

Out of the Shadows: Women and Lung Cancer; Lung Cancer Alliance Fact Sheet; Lung Cancer Alliance Press Release 4/26/10; S. 717

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