Date Published: 04/27/2020 [Source]
In recent years, the lung cancer community has seen an uptick in cases involving young women who have never smoked. No one knows the reason for this surprising and alarming turn.
In an interview with CUREŽ, Andrew Ciupek, who holds a Doctor of Philosophy in cancer biology and serves as clinical research manager at GO2 Foundation for Lung Cancer, discussed the trend and ways in which research needs to improve to better understand the situation.
CURE: Is there any insight as to why more women are receiving lung cancer diagnoses?
Ciupek: We don't fully understand why yet. Since the 1960s, there have been increasing rates of lung cancer in women compared with men, particularly in younger, never-smoking women, so the lung cancer research community started to explore this.
For instance, in 2018, the National Cancer Institute and the American Cancer Society published a study in the New England Journal of Medicine that noted an increasing number of lung cancer cases in these women, but the authors also noted that they don't really think it's due to differences in smoking rates.
And that's because since the 1960s, smoking rates of men and women in the United States have been pretty similar. However, we know there are a lot of other risk factors that contribute to it. Some are environmental exposures, such as radon, or occupational exposures, but there could also be certain genetic predispositions among women; however, we don't really know which one contributes to this rise. We need a lot more research in this area.