Lung cancer in women

Is lung cancer different in women? Yes and no.

Lung cancer has received some much-needed attention recently, thanks largely to two admired public figures. In April 2005, ABC news anchorman Peter Jennings told his nightly audience of millions that he had been diagnosed with lung cancer. Four months later, he died of the disease. Soon afterward came word that actress Dana Reeve, the widow of actor Christopher Reeve, had been diagnosed with lung cancer that would claim her life in March 2006. At age 44, Reeve was more than 20 years younger than the average age at which most lung cancers are discovered.

Jennings and Reeve lend familiar and sympathetic faces to a disease that causes tremendous suffering and kills 165,000 people every year — more than any other single cancer. It takes a greater toll on women than breast cancer, ovarian cancer, and uterine cancer combined. Lung cancer hasn't inspired much activism or advocacy because it's often viewed as a condition that smokers bring on themselves. But no one is immune. Jennings was an ex-smoker, and Reeve was a nonsmoker.

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