Lung Cancer Incidence Higher in Younger Women than Men

Lung cancer incidence is declining in the U.S., but a persistent trend of higher rates in younger women compared to men is observed, raising concerns and calling for further research. This trend extends to women aged 50 to 54 and could be linked to complex factors, including variations in lung cancer risk after smoking cessation.


Worldsfeed Health Desk: Recent population-based data reveals that while lung cancer rates are on the decline in the United States, there’s a persistent trend of higher rates among women compared to men, particularly in younger age groups. This pattern is now extending to women aged 50 to 54.

Between the years 2000-2004 and 2015-2019, a noticeable decline in lung cancer incidence was observed. However, the decline was more significant in young men, resulting in higher incidence rates among women aged 35 to 54.

In the 50 to 54 age group, lung cancer rates decreased by 44% in men and 20% in women. This shift led to an increased female-to-male incidence rate ratio during 2015-2019, compared to 2000-2004.

This data confirms a previous pattern of higher lung cancer incidence among women in age groups ranging from 30 to 49, observed from 1995 to 2014.

While women aged 55 and older still have lower incidence rates than men, the differences are becoming less pronounced.

The cause behind this shift remains uncertain. It’s not linked to differences in smoking rates between men and women. Studies also do not support the idea that cigarette smoking has more carcinogenic effects on women than men. Overdiagnosis is unlikely to explain the increased risk in younger women. However, it’s possible that reduced occupational exposures, like asbestos, play a role in this shift.

One hypothesis is that the risk of certain types of lung cancer, such as adenocarcinoma, decreases more slowly in women than in men after smoking cessation. Women have been slower in quitting smoking in large numbers, indicating the need for intensified smoking cessation efforts among young and middle-aged women.

Further research is needed to better understand the reasons behind the higher incidence of lung cancer in younger women than men, helping to plan more effective interventions. This study analyzed population-based incidence data on lung and bronchus cancers diagnosed from 2000 to 2019.

The study has some limitations, such as the absence of individual risk factor data, and it doesn’t account for the population growth of those born outside the U.S. during the study period, where cigarette smoking rates are substantially lower among non-U.S.-born women compared to men.

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