Lung Cancer Study Group

International Women’s Day

GECP Campaign for International Women’s Day | March 8th

Lung cancer is on the rise among millennials

As part of International Women’s Day, which is celebrated on March 8, the Lung Cancer Study Group (GECP) warns of the increase in diagnoses of lung cancer in females, with a digital campaign to raise awareness of cessation of smoking habits and adoption of preventive measures.

Although historically lung cancer has always been more prevalent in males, over the last 40 years men have had a 36% reduction in new diagnoses, while women have had an 84% increase. This trend was strongly triggered by tobacco industry campaigns which, until a few years ago, subliminally influenced young women by saying that in order to be “modern” or “equal to men” they should smoke”.

A particularly worrying fact is that, in recent years, lung cancer has been increasing in young women. In the age group between 30 and 49 years, it already exceeds the incidence of men in several developed countries. In this subgroup, there is an important percentage of women with lung cancer who are not smokers, thus reinforcing the importance of factors other than smoking.

Secondhand smoke, for example, is a relevant risk factor for non-smoking women, as 64% of lung cancer deaths associated with secondhand smoke correspond to women. The hypothesis is still being studied that women may have different genetic risk factors for lung cancer, such as not being able to repair damaged DNA or having abnormal genes related to the development of cancer. The possible influence of hormonal factors, such as the role of estrogens, is also being investigated.

“On this International Women’s Day, we want to raise awareness among the general public, and in particular the female public, to this worrying trend. Since young non-smoking women are not usually considered part of the risk group for this pathology, it is important to recognize the symptoms that should motivate a visit to the doctor, as well as to carry out regular check-ups that, in turn, will allow early diagnoses with greater chances of success and cure”, says Dr.ª Carina Gaspar, pulmonologist and member of the GECP.

With this campaign, GECP also intends to warn that not smoking is still the best way to avoid lung cancer. In addition to tobacco, new devices such as electronic cigarettes and heated tobacco should also be avoided. Limiting the time spent in spaces where you are exposed to secondhand smoke is another of the GECP recommendations, as well as practicing physical exercise and opting for a balanced diet.

“In addition to all the benefits that giving up smoking brings to our health, it never hurts to remember that smoking cessation also causes visible changes in some physical aspects, such as the appearance of the skin, shinier hair and less yellow teeth” , adds Dr. Carina Gaspar.

For GECP, it is also essential that the entire medical community, and in particular General and Family Medicine, is strongly involved in the prevention and early diagnosis of this pathology, since, for now, there is still no screening implemented at national level. It is also important to adopt measures that continue to discourage the initiation of consumption and promote smoking cessation.

About lung cancer:
Lung cancer is one of the most common cancers in the world. its incidence
increases at a rate of 0.5% per year. In Portugal, around 5,000 new cases of lung cancer were diagnosed in 2020, representing the third most common neoplasm. It is, however, the main cause of death from cancer in the country, estimated to have caused 4,671 deaths in 2018.

About the GECP:
The Lung Cancer Study Group emerged in 2000 as a result of a broad need to join efforts in promoting knowledge in Pulmonary Oncology. It brings together a multidisciplinary group of health professionals, maintaining close links with other scientific groups and societies, universities and civil society organizations.

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