Lung cancer has traditionally been viewed as male disease; but, lung cancer does not discriminate. According to the American Cancer Society, lung cancer is the leading cause of cancer deaths among American women, killing more women each year than breast cancer, uterine cancer and ovarian cancer combined. Lung cancer in women can also present at a slightly younger age than men. As the incidence of lung cancer in women has increased, significant genderbased differences in epidemiology, biology, treatment responses and prognosis have become evident and are in the process of further investigation
Even though smoking is the number one cause of death among women, one out of every five women with lung cancer has never smoked. Studies looking at this discrepancy have suggested that potential exposure to second-hand smoke, genetic predisposition, hormonal factors, as well as environmental and occupational exposures may be at play.
We hear that the symptoms of a heart attack manifest and are experienced differently in women, and the same can be said of lung cancer. Women who develop adenocarcinomas, as opposed to the squamous lung cancers found more commonly in men, can develop widespread tumors before developing any traditional symptoms such as cough and shortness of breath. Symptoms of fatigue, gradual shortness of breath, weight loss and back pain can be the first sign that something is wrong.
Smoking cessation and early detection of lung cancer among women is a priority for us here at Mount Sinai Medical Center of Florida which is why we have initiated a lung cancer screening program to help detect lung cancer in its earliest stage. More than 85 percent of men and women diagnosed with lung cancer are found to be in a late stage of the disease, and the vast majority them do not survive. However, when diagnosed at the earliest stage, more than 90 percent can be cured with prompt surgical resection. The National Cancer Institute has recently concluded an eight-year study that focused on the early detection of lung cancer in high-risk patients with low-dose helical Ct images as opposed to chest x-rays. The results revealed a 20 percent reduction in mortality from lung cancer among patients screened with low-dose helical CT.
Based on these new guidelines, Mount Sinai Medical Center is now offering lowdose CT screening for high-risk patients. Our multidisciplinary approach leads to greater accuracy of diagnosis, consistent clinical results, decreased time to treatment and greater patient satisfaction. In addition, we offer robotic lung surgery and other minimally invasive surgical options. To learn more about Mount Sinai’s lung screening program, or to schedule an appointment, please call 305-535-3434.
Dr. Estelamari Rodriguez is a board-certified medical oncologist specializing in lung cancer treatment at the Mount Sinai Comprehensive Cancer Center. She also chairs the Women’s Centered Care Program at Mount Sinai Medical Center. She sees patients at the Mount Sinai Comprehensive Cancer Centers in Miami Beach, as well as Mount Sinai Aventura. For more information, or to schedule an appointment with Dr. Rodriguez, call 305-674-CARE (2273).