Lung cancer is more frequent in non-smoking females than in non-smoking males.
Although the main reason for the tremendous increase in lung cancer incidence in females is tobacco, there are several other potential risk factors.
There are genetic factors that could explain different susceptibility to lung cancer development in both sexes.
To describe the incidence of lung cancer in the USA and Europe.
To identify the epidemiological specificities of lung cancer in females.
To correlate some of these specificities with genetic and hormonal factors.
Summary There has been a tremendous increase in lung cancer incidence in females, which is mainly due to the increase in tobacco consumption by females after the Second World War in the USA and from the end of the 1960s in Europe.
However, there are more non-smoking females developing lung cancers than non-smoking males, and lung cancer can be attributed to active tobacco smoking only in ~70% of female lung cancer cases in Europe. Even if the female patients who develop lung cancer are smokers, the amount smoked is consistently less than that of males, thus suggesting an increased susceptibility to carcinogens of smoke. This increased susceptibility is still controversial, but there are several genetic differences that may account for such an increased susceptibility.
- ©ERS 2006
Breathe articles are open access and distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution Non-Commercial Licence 4.0.