Have you ever considered that the occurrence, symptoms, and prognosis of a disease as deadly as lung cancer might be somewhat affected by gender?
It is not a question you would often come across. And there are not enough studies regarding the topic. However, whatever research has been done till now has revealed several trends and facts you should be aware of.
To some extent, gender affects which type of lung cancer you are more likely to have, what early signs of lung cancer you might experience, and what the prognosis would look like.
This article discusses the common and uncommon specifics of lung cancer in men and women. Read on to learn more about the trends in the occurrence and symptoms of lung cancer in women and men. What Are The 7 Signs Of Lung cancer?
Signs And Symptoms of Lung Cancer In Men And Women
The symptoms of lung cancer are similar in both men and women. This means that in the early stages, the symptoms that begin to show are non-alarming and can easily be thought to be associated with a simple illness or infection. And, as cancer progresses, the symptoms get worse.
Some of the most observed lung cancer symptoms that are common in both men and women include:
- A persistent cough that doesn go away with medications and worsens over time
- Dark phlegm or blood coming up while coughing
- Shortness of breath
- Slight or obvious changes in the voice
- Recurring chest pain
- Frequent lung infections
- Difficulty in swallowing
- Loss of appetite
- Sudden weight loss
Whether you are a man or a woman, if you can relate to even some of the symptoms mentioned above, we advise you to consult with a doctor.
While almost all lung cancer symptoms are common for both genders, there are some trends observed over the years. The specifics are as follows:
- In men, lung cancer mostly affects the airways. This could be because of the high smoking rates among this gender. And due to this, the major symptoms they observe include coughing, breathing, difficulties, hoarseness, and other similar ones.
- In women, the occurrence of lung cancer in parts of the lung other than the airways is fairly common. The most common early signs of lung cancer observed in this gender include fatigue, back pain, and shoulder pain. Seeing as people would rarely associate these symptoms with lung cancer, early diagnosis of the disease is even rarer among women than in men.
Studies regarding the differences in the symptoms of lung cancer in men and women are still ongoing. Until we have more information, the symptoms are considered common among all genders.
We highly advise seeking treatment if you are experiencing three or more of the symptoms discussed above. Even if it wasn caused by lung cancer, treatment would at least resolve your lung infection symptoms before it raises other problems.
Differences In The Occurrence Of Lung Cancer In Women And Men
Earlier, the occurrence of lung cancer was far more common among men than in women. However, the past few decades have witnessed a drastic change in these numbers. As per studies, in the last 42 years, the occurrence of lung cancer has declined by 36% among men while it has increased by 84% among women.
While this could be due to some gender-specific factors, the trends of smoking in the past decades are also major contributing factors. Until over a century ago, smoking was mostly limited to the male gender. And as smoking cigarettes is the biggest cause of lung cancer, the incidence of this disease was high among males. However, around the second World War, the number of female smokers rose abruptly and considerably. That change is probably the reason behind the increase in lung cancer cases in women.
Apart from the incidence of the disease, there are also differences in the type of lung cancer among the genders. The section below explains the same. What Are The Symptoms Of Lung Cancer In Women?
Types Of Lung Cancer
There are broadly two main types of lung cancer:
- small cell lung cancer
- non-small cell lung cancer
Statistics have revealed that women are more likely to develop small cell lung cancer, the aggressive type that spreads very fast, than men. This is especially the case with women who smoke.
Non-small cell lung cancer, the more common type, occurs mainly in three forms:
- squamous cell lung cancer
- large cell lung cancer
In males, squamous cell lung cancer is more common, especially among regular smokers. In women, most non-small cell lung cancer cases are of adenocarcinoma.
Risk Factors Of Lung Cancer In Men And Women
Most of the risk factors of lung cancer are the same for all genders. Some of the major ones include:
- Smoking cigarettes
- Secondary smoking
- Exposure to occupational and environmental carcinogens like asbestos, silica, nickel, radon, and smoke
- Family history of lung cancer
- Frequent lung infection symptoms
Apart from these risk factors, there is evidence from research that gender-specific hormones like estrogen might contribute to acting as a trigger for cancerous growth. Also, females are more prone to genetic mutations that could lead to cancerous growth.
Prognosis Of Lung Cancer In Men And Women
As per the statistics, the median 1 to 2-year survival rate in females is higher than that in males. Also, women are at 14% less risk of death from lung cancer than men. They also seem to respond better to chemotherapy treatment than males.
However, the first signs of lung cancer are not as easily noticeable in cases of adenocarcinoma, which is more common in women. As opposed to this, squamous cell lung cancer, which is more common among males, shows more obvious early symptoms. Hence, early detection of lung cancer in women is difficult, which makes treatment difficult.
Whether you are a man or a woman, lung cancer is equally lethal to you. Enough evidence supports that hormonal and genetic differences account for some distinctions in lung cancer among different genders. However, the basic symptoms, risk factors, screening, diagnosis, and treatment methods remain the same for all.
We advise you to seek medical attention if you suspect having lung cancer symptoms or are having frequent lung infection symptoms.
You can visit Dr. Arvind Kumar at Medanta Hospital in Gurgaon for excellent consultation and care. Having received his education and training from some of the most renowned institutions globally and with over 40 years of experience in the field, Dr. Arvind Kumar is counted among the best chest surgeon in india for lung cancer treatment. He and his team provide the only comprehensive and all-encompassing cancer care in India.