Lung Cancer is the Leading Cause of Cancer Death in Women—GO2 for Lung Cancer President & CEO Provides Testimony as Part of the “Legislative Proposals to Support Patients and Caregivers” Hearing

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GO2 for Lung Cancer President and CEO Laurie Ambrose submitted testimony to the House Committee on Energy and Commerce, Subcommittee on Health. Ambrose’s testimony was in support of the Women and Lung Cancer Research & Preventive Services Act of 2023, introduced in the House by Congressman Brendan Boyle (D-Penn) and Brian Fitzpatrick (R-Penn), on legislative proposals to support patients and caregivers. The Hearing was held on Feb. 14.

This bicameral and bipartisan legislation, introduced last year as H.R. 4534/S. 2245, requires the Secretary of Health and Human Services, in consultation with the Secretary of Defense and Secretary of Veteran Affairs, to conduct an interagency review to evaluate research on women and lung cancer, improve how women are given access to lung cancer preventive services and conduct public awareness campaigns on lung cancer.

“This hearing is a significant milestone because our bill has now gone through regular order and can be considered by the full committee to be marked up and passed by the House of Representatives by the end of this year,” Ambrose explained.

In her testimony she wrote, “Most people are not aware that lung cancer is the leading cause of cancer death in women—more than breast and cervical cancers combined. It is now estimated that every day, 162 women die from the disease—one woman every 8.9 minutes. It is also estimated that 234,580 new cases of lung cancer are expected this year, and an estimated 125,070 lives will be lost to the disease.”

Ambrose continued with the written testimony, “Reports continue to document how lung cancer develops differently in women and men within many facets of the disease including risk factors, clinical characteristics, progression and length of survival.”

A significant study by the National Cancer Institute and the American Cancer Society published in the New England Journal of Medicine in May 2018 indicated that the incidence rates of lung cancer among white and Hispanic women born after 1965 are now higher than among their male counterparts, a reversal not correlated to changes in their smoking rates. The study concluded by calling for more research into this disturbing precedent.

Ambrose stated, “GO2 has witnessed lung cancer’s unique and devastating impact on women. We placed an early spotlight on the need for increased research into women and lung cancer. Beginning in 2010, we partnered with The Connors Center for Women’s Health and Gender Biology at Brigham and Women’s Hospital after they released the study, ‘Out of the Shadows.’ This study highlights the gaps in current knowledge about lung cancer’s lethality, summarizes existing research on sex and gender differences in lung cancer, identifies shortcomings in current research funding that would provide a better understanding of these biological differences, and recommends steps to reduce the burden of this disease in women and men.”

Ambrose also explained that Brigham and Women’s Hospital released an updated report in 2016.“Lung Cancer: A Women’s Health Imperative,” brought even greater awareness of the need for a national strategy to address the study of sex and gender specific aspects of the disease.

“It is our hope through H.R. 4534, the Women and Lung Cancer Research and Preventative Services Act of 2023, we will gain a better understanding of the roles that genetic, hormonal, behavioral, and environmental factors play in this lethal disease, uncover the differences in incidence, prevalence, and survivability to identify treatment responses between men and women,” Ambrose stated. “We want to change the trajectory of this disease for all, and the legislation does that.”

She continued, “Increasing basic and clinical research knowledge of the disease will make the public aware of the vital need to create a national strategy that accelerates implementing lung cancer screening for women and bridge the gaps in lung cancer innovations.”

GO2 for Lung Cancer remains committed to assisting the many people living with lung cancer, their families, and caregivers. The organization supports patients, physicians, survivors, and ongoing research to end lung cancer and improve outcomes for all.

Ambrose added, “This is a big hurdle. We have been striving to accelerate this movement and bring focus to the fact that lung cancer is an exceptionally deadly and devastating disease for women. Despite our spotlight, the public remains largely unaware of the danger, and lung cancer remains one of the lowest-funded and least-researched cancers. If we act quickly, we can save many, many lives.”

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