Lung Cancer in Women

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Lung cancer is the deadliest cancer in women. In the last decade, the first measurable decline in disease-related mortality has occurred and in the last 5 years, the first decline in lung cancer incidence in women in the United States has been reported. Five-year survival rates are much higher in early-stage disease, making effective screening a priority. Data on screening with low-dose computed tomography are controversial; existing guidelines are not sex specific and recommend testing only for patients at high risk for the disease. Although cigarette smoking remains the predisposing factor that is most often associated with tumor development, the advent of molecularly targeted therapy and the growing evidence that susceptible targets are more prevalent in never-smoking women have brought more attention to this particular subpopulation. Studies of both surgery and systemic therapy suggest that not only never-smoking women but also women overall experience better outcomes than men. Identifying all of the factors contributing to these sex differences presents us with an opportunity to identify potentially a distinct tumor biology in women who would warrant a distinct personalized treatment approach.