Rising Concerns: Elevated Lung Cancer Risks Among Young Women

According to a new study, lung cancer in young women is higher than it is in men. This article examines this research and why historic cancer patterns are reversing.

What Do Researchers Say?

Dr. Ahmedin Jemal, study lead author and senior vice president of surveillance and health equity science at the American Cancer Society, said they’re uncertain why the historical pattern is reversing with lung cancer incidents among younger and middle-aged individuals happening more in women than men. However, he said cigarette smoking and other lung cancer risk factors are not higher in younger women than men.

How Was The Study Conducted?

For the study, researchers examined population-based data on lung and bronchus cancers diagnosed from 2000 to 2019 from the National Cancer Institute’s Surveillance, Epidemiology, and End Results (SEER) program.

The investigators discovered men experienced fewer lung cancer cases than women between 2000-2004 and 2015-2019. This resulted in more recorded cancer cases in women aged 35 to 54. In people aged 50 to 54, the rate decreased by 44% in men compared to 20% in women.

How Can Lung Cancer Be Prevented?

Dr. Jemal said lung cancer is the leading cause of cancer death in the United States, with 80% of cases and deaths caused by cigarette smoking. He also said this can be mitigated by promoting tobacco cessation at provider and community levels. This can improve access to tobacco cessation programs and aid by increasing lung cancer screening in eligible women. However, Dr. Jemal said further research is needed to learn more about the reasons for the increase in lung cancer cases in younger and middle-aged women.

Lisa Lacasse, president of the American Cancer Society Cancer Action Network, said this research further shows the need to reduce all barriers to help women address and prevent lung cancer. She also said removing barriers to screening and providing adequate funding for tobacco control programs will decrease lung cancer deaths and eradicate cancer.

The following measures can also be used to prevent lung cancer:

Avoid Secondhand Smoke: If you work or live with a smoker, you can ask them to smoke outside. You should also avoid areas where people smoke, such as restaurants and bars.
Test Your Home for Radon: Breathing in radon can increase your risk of lung cancer.
As such, you should consistently test your home if you stay in an area where high radon levels are a known issue.


Further studies are required to determine why lung cancer is affecting more women than men. That said, you can prevent lung cancer by avoiding smoking and testing your home for high radon levels.