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How common is lung cancer in women?

It is estimated that 80,000 women in the US will be diagnosed with lung cancer. Unfortunately, lung cancer is the leading cause of cancer death in women in the United States and will result in over 72,000 deaths this year, more than will result from breast cancer. It is the second most common cancer in white females and Native American women. It is the third most common cancer among African-American, Asian and Hispanic women.

Aside from skin cancer, lung cancer is the most common cancer in men and it will kill three times as many men as prostate cancer. In 2008, there were about 116,000 new cases and 88,900 deaths.

For many years, lung cancer was considered a man's disease. The reality, however, is that lung cancer is the most common cancer-related cause of death among men and women. In 1987, lung cancer passed breast cancer and became the leading cause of cancer death among U.S. women.

In 2015, an estimated 221,200 people will be diagnosed with lung cancer, slightly more men than women. About 158,040 people will die from lung cancer. Of those, 71,660 will be women. Overall, a woman has a 1 in 16 chance of developing lung cancer during her lifetime. If she smokes, her chances are much higher.

The rate of lung cancer in women has climbed at an alarming rate. Since 1950, the lung cancer death rate for American women has increased significantly. The jump is linked to an increase in the number of women who smoke.

Dr. Yolonda L. Colson, MD
Cardiothoracic Surgeon

Lung cancer is the leading cause of cancer death in the U.S. and kills more women than breast, ovarian and uterine cancers combined. Watch Yolonda L. Colson, MD, PhD, of Brigham and Women's Hospital, explain how lung cancer affects women differently.

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Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.