Posted by: Leah | September 13, 2011

Lung Cancer is a Women’s Disease Too

A very interesting article in the Globe and Mail today:

http://www.theglobeandmail.com/life/health/new-health/andre-picard/lung-cancer-is-a-womens-disease-too/article2162690/

The author makes a very valid point, which I mostly agree with. I have always been amazed with the popularity of pink breast cancer events. That happens for a reason. Breast cancer in fact not one type of a cancer; there are many types of it, some of them are very curable unlike other types of cancer that are treatable meaning there are treatments out there to improve quality of life, or put somebody in remission, but the chances a person relapses or get a secondary cancer are very high, or the cancer sometimes stops responding to treatments. Breast cancer treatments had a very rocky path in the 20th century – the same as leukemia but there are types of it that are curable meaning that yes, they do produce a number of survivors – people who have their own stories, families etc, people who go out there and put a personal touch on fundraising.

It is a great thing. It helps raise funds even after we factor in payrol and marketing expenses. At the same time it is not great for women and men who live with Stage IV breast cancer that is not curable – as in the people’s minds breast cancer is a disease that can be definitely cured. Not always the case.

Where I disagree with the author is on reasoning why people smoke and why and how lung cancer is a women’s disease too. Yes, possibly some ladies smoke because of social pressure or stress or are exposed to a second-hand smoke because they can’t influence a smoker spouse. Very possible.

But I think we should start with saying that there are many ladies with lung cancer out there who never smoked, and that very possibly but not necessarily they were exposed to a second-hand smoke.  The way a woman’s body deals with tobacco smoke and a man’s body does the same is very different.  Add to that estrogen that may affect cancer growth and the picture you see is not really pretty. Any woman who goes and starts smoking on top of all that really increases the chances of getting lung cancer. This is does not make a lung cancer a women’s  disease though. This all means that a heavy emphasis on the pink type of fundraising should be shifted. There are many devastating types of cancer, such as lung cancer that need our attention, energy and pink spirits to get more awareness and yes funds.

All will benefit from that – both men and women. After all, breast cancer is a men’s disease too.

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