Lung Cancer Killing More Women in Developed Countries

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Watch more and discuss: The CDC reports for the first time lung cancer has surpassed breast cancer as the leading cause of death among women in developed countries. Shawn Tittle, Chief of Thoracic Surgery at Norwalk Hospital says every year he sees an increased number of lung cancer patients. "The die was cast when so much of the population started smoking and now we have to treat it and take care of it, it's not to be judgement to people who chose to smoke it's just a consequence of the increased risk of that activity," said Tittle. Studies show lung cancer attributed to 1.6 million deaths in 2012 and although it had been the top killer of men since the 1950's, it reached its peak among women in the 1980s. The highest lung cancer rates found in women were in Northern America, Europe, Australia, New Zealand, North Korea, and China. Studies also show lung cancer rates are decreasing in men, but continuing to increase in women in Spain and Hungary. "About 60 percent of people polled have a negative view of lung cancer patients," said Tittle. Lung cancer can result from more than just smoking. Environmental factors like pollution, asbestos, radiation, and secondhand smoke are other contributors. Fifty-eight million people in the U.S. are exposed to secondhand smoke, which claims the lives of 400 infants and 41 thousand adult nonsmokers every year. "If you grew up in a house with second-hand smoke and you develop lung cancer, you're still a cancer patient, you still deserve the best medical care and the best opportunity for survival than anybody else with cancer has," said Tittle. "It's a real epidemic among women particularly now and I think that we need to get past judgments and treat it." Tittle says with improved technology, doctors can catch lung cancers early through a CAT Scan, which can lead to an 85 to 90 percent cure rate. "Now with the speed of computers improving and technology improving, it's a safe procedure with minimal radiation and they give us high quality images. The most important part of that over the past year is that medicare will now pay for screening for people who have a lung caner risk due to their smoking history. That's a huge deal because CAT scans for smokers will save as many lives or more as mammography for breast cancer," said Tittle. Smoking remains the leading cause of lung cancer for both men and women in the U.S. Tittle advises those who choose to smoke to do so outside of a home or away from an environment where non-smokers are present. Produced By: Priscilla Lombardi