How lung cancer impacts men and women (and the symptoms to look out for)
Symptoms of lung cancer in men and women | NHG
You may, or may not, know this, but this month (November) is Lung Cancer Awareness Month.
Believe it or not, lung cancer is the UK’s bigger cancer killer and it can affect anyone, young and old, men and women, smokers and non-smokers.
That’s why the awareness month is held by the Roy Castle Lung Cancer Foundation every November, to spread the word about the disease and its symptoms. The foundation was set up following the death of entertainer and TV presenter, Roy Castle, who died after a two and-a-half-year battle with lung cancer.
As well as raising awareness, Lung Cancer Awareness Month is aimed at helping people spot the signs and encouraging them to visit their GP if they have any of the symptoms. So, what are the symptoms to look out for? Interestingly, lung cancer types and symptoms do tend to vary between men and women.
How lung cancer impacts men and women
Women – common lung cancer symptoms and types
- Non-small cell lung cancers are by far the most common type of lung cancer in women > "What is non-small cell lung cancer?"
- Lung adenocarcinoma, which is a type of non-small cell lung cancer, is the most common type of lung cancer in women. Adenocarcinomas can grow quite large before being detected, which can lead to people increasingly feeling short of breath and suffering from fatigue
Women often have symptoms, but don’t realise they have them, which can result in the lung cancer spreading to other parts of the body. At this stage, symptoms may include eye problems, numbness or weakness. > "Other symptoms may include"
- Bronchioalveolar carcinoma (BAC), a condition which has been reclassified as a form of lung adenocarcinoma, is a rare form of lung cancer that’s more common in women. For unknown reasons, BAC seems to be increasing worldwide, especially among younger, non-smoking women
- The first symptoms of lung cancer in women are often a shortness of breath (sometimes attributed to age or weight gain or being out of shape) and fatigue
Men – common lung cancer symptoms and types
- Small cell lung cancers are more common in men
- Men who have lung cancer are more likely to have a persistent cough, cough up blood or develop respiratory infections (due to tumors blocking the airways)
- The most common types of lung cancer in men tend to grow near the central airways
- Men are more likely than women to develop squamous cell lung cancer, which is a form of non-small cell lung cancer
- Another group of symptoms that can be caused by lung cancer are something called paraneoplastic syndrome. This is caused by hormone-like substances that are secreted by tumors and found in most small cell lung cancers, squamous cell lung cancers and large cell carcinomas - cancers that tend to develop in men
Treating lung cancer
Treatment for lung cancer in both men and women tends to involve a combination of therapies involving:
- Local treatments – are designed to remove cancer cells at their source, locally, and include surgery and radiation therapy.
- Systematic treatments – work by addressing cancer cells that are present anywhere in your body, not just your lungs. Treatment types include chemotherapy, targeted therapies and immunotherapy.
The survival rate for lung cancer in women is higher than for men at all stages of the disease. The overall five-year survival rate is 18 per cent (12 per cent for men) however, it’s hoping the on-going development of new treatments will see the survival rate for both men and women steadily increase in the future.
We hope you’ve found this post useful. For more information about lung cancer, visit these websites:
- British Lung Foundation - https://www.blf.org.uk/support-for-you/lung-cancer
- Macmillan Cancer Support - https://www.macmillan.org.uk/cancerinformation/cancertypes/lung/lungcancer.aspx
- NHS Choices - https://www.nhs.uk/Conditions/Cancer-of-the-lung/Pages/Introduction.aspx