Many women worry more about getting breast cancer, but lung cancer is deadlier. Here are the warning signs to watch for.
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More women in developed, richer countries – such as the United States, France and other European nations – will die of lung cancer than breast cancer this year, according to an analysis from the American Cancer Society and the International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC).Blame cigarette smoking. Since the 1970s, more women have taken up the habit or worked in environments where others smoked.

Now tobacco’s deadly effects are showing up, the report notes.

“Women are especially affected by the carcinogenic effects of smoke – whether they smoke or are secondhand smokers,” says Clark Fuller, M.D., director of Thoracic Surgery at Saint John’s Health Center in Santa Monica, Calif.

For women in developing, poorer countries, including China and Indonesia, lung cancer remains No. 2. In those nations, more women die of breast cancer, followed by lung and cervical cancers, IARC statistics reveal.

But some forms of cancer that once were rare in developing countries “are becoming increasingly common as those countries adopt a more Western lifestyle,” an ACS press release states.

Lung Cancer More Deadly Than Breast Cancer

Among American women, lung cancer has led the list of cancer fatalities for several years, and 71,660 will die from the disease in 2015, according to National Cancer Institute estimates. About 40,000 American women will die of breast cancer.

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Although breast cancer gets more press in the U.S. lung cancer kills twice as many women as breast cancer every year in this country.
Why Women Are Hardest Hit
Part of the reason may be that a woman’s lungs are smaller – even when she’s as tall as a man, according to pulmonologist Zab Mosenifar, M.D., co-medical director of the Women’s Guild Lung Institute at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center in Los Angeles.

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“The same level of smoking has a more negative impact [on women] because all those toxic properties are concentrated over smaller areas,” he explains.

The incidence of lung cancers in American women more than doubled between 1975 and 2007, from 24.5 per 100,000 to 53 per 100,000, according to the institute.

Researchers are calling for “a coordinated and intensified response from all sectors of society, including governments, civil society, the private sector and individuals” to reduce “the growing burden of cancer” on all of these groups.

Signs of Lung Cancer
Symptoms result from damage to the lung or other structures near the lung, and can include:
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  • Persistent and worsening cough
  • Hoarseness or any change in voice quality
  • Coughing up blood
  • Shortness of breath
  • Wheezing
  • Frequent pneumonia or bronchitis
  • Chest pain

But symptoms of lung cancer affect more than just lungs and your breathing. They include:

  • Swelling of the neck and face
  • Appetite loss
  • Weight loss
  • Fatigue
  • Fever
  • New back or bone pain
  • New inability to control the bladder or bowel
  • Seizure activity, specific weakness, or numbness
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Many women worry more about getting breast cancer, but lung cancer is deadlier. Here are the warning signs to watch for. More women in developed, richer countries – such as the United States, France and other European nations – will die of lung cancer than breast cancer this year, according...