by Eric Metcalf, for GalTime.com
Do you know enough about your risk of lung cancer?
When it comes to health risks, lung cancer doesn’t appear on many women’s radar, especially if they don’t smoke. In honor of Lung Cancer Awareness Month, here are the top facts about women and lung cancer that suprised us most and every woman should know.
1. It strikes a lot of women. Lung cancer is the second most commonly diagnosed type of cancer in women, after breast cancer. It was more common in women than colon, uterine, thyroid, kidney, or ovarian cancer in 2012.
2. It’s also a common killer. Lung cancer is the cause of more cancer deaths in women than any other type – even breast cancer! Roughly 73,000 women were expected to die of cancer of the lung and bronchus (a related structure) in 2012, compared to about 40,000 deaths from breast cancer.
3. Women live longer with the disease. The outlook once women are diagnosed with lung cancer is ominous: Only 19 percent are still alive five years later. However, women are more likely than men to be alive five years after their diagnosis.This difference tends to hold true for younger and older people with lung cancer, and those with less-advanced and more-advanced stages of the disease.
4. Lots of women smoke. More than 17% of adult women smoke cigarettes. Smoking is the biggest risk factor for lung cancer. The more tobacco you smoke – and the more years you smoke – the higher your chance of developing this cancer goes up.
5. Women who don’t smoke can get lung cancer, too. Nonsmokers still need to be concerned about protecting themselves from lung cancer. According to the American Cancer Society, up to 24,000 Americans who never smoked die of lung cancer every year. Radon gas, air pollution, and cancer-causing chemicals in the workplace can also cause lung cancer.
6. A woman’s partner can cause her lung cancer. Secondhand smoke can also cause lung cancer. One study found that nonsmoking women who lived with men who smoked were 24% more likely to develop lung cancer compared to nonsmoking women who didn’t breathe secondhand smoke.