Lung Cancer Incidence in Young Women vs Men in the United States

In a study reported in The New England Journal of Medicine, Jemal et al found that the incidence of lung cancer in young white and Hispanic women is now higher than that in men in the US.

Study Details

The study involved analysis of data from the North American Association of Central Cancer Registries on cases of invasive lung cancer diagnosed from 1995 through 2014 in 46 states and the District of Columbia. The population-based incidence of lung cancer according to sex, racial/ethnic group, age group, year of birth, and calendar period of diagnosis was assessed, and female-to-male incidence rate ratios were calculated. Prevalence of cigarette smoking was examined using data from the National Health Interview Survey from 1970 to 2016.

Changing Incidence Rate Ratios

It was found that the age-specific incidence of lung cancer has generally decreased over the past 2 decades among both men and women aged 30–54 years in all racial/ethnic groups, with the decreases in men being greater. Among all patients, the female-to-male incidence rate ratios increased to exceed 1.0 in the 30–34, 35–39, 40–44, and 45–49-year age groups. For example, for the 40–44-year age group, the incidence rate ratio increased from 0.82 during 1995 to 1999 to 1.13 for 2010 to 2014.

The higher incidence among women was confined to whites and Hispanics. For example, in the 40–44-year age group, the incidence rate ratio increased from 0.88 for 1995 to 1999 to 1.17 for 2010 to 2014 among whites and from 0.79 to 1.22 among Hispanics. In this age group, the incidence rate ratio increased from 0.81 in the cohort born around 1950 to 1.13 in the cohort born around 1965 among whites and from 0.64 to 1.12 among Hispanics. The sex-specific incidence rates converged among blacks and Asians/Pacific Islanders without crossover from a higher incidence among men to a higher incidence among women. The prevalence of cigarette smoking among women born since 1965 was found to approach but generally not exceed the prevalence among men born since 1965.

The investigators concluded, “The patterns of historically higher incidence rates of lung cancer among men than among women have reversed among non-Hispanic whites and Hispanics born since the mid-1960s, and they are not fully explained by sex differences in smoking behaviors.

Future studies are needed to identify reasons for the higher incidence of lung cancer among young women.”

The study was funded by the American Cancer Society.

The content in this post has not been reviewed by the American Society of Clinical Oncology, Inc. (ASCO®) and does not necessarily reflect the ideas and opinions of ASCO®.


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