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Lung Cancer. 2000 Apr;28(1):1-10.

Small cell lung cancer in women: risk associated with smoking, prior respiratory disease, and occupation.

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  • 1Department of Medicine, Division of Hematology/Oncology and Clinical Cancer Center, 375B Med Surge II, University of California Irvine, Irvine, CA 92697, USA.


Small cell carcinoma of the lung (SCLC) occurs most frequently in heavy smokers, yet exhibits a lesser predominance among men than other smoking-associated lung cancers. Incidence rates have increased more rapidly in women than men and at a faster rate among women than other cell types. To investigate the importance of smoking and other risk factors, a case-control study of SCLC in women was conducted. A total of 98 women with primary SCLC and 204 healthy controls, identified by random-digit dialing and frequency matched for age, completed telephone interviews. Data collected include demographics, medical history, family cancer history, residence history, and lifetime smoking habits. Odds ratios (ORs) and 95% confidence intervals (95% CI) were calculated using logistic regression analysis. Risk for small cell carcinoma in women is strongly associated with current use of cigarettes. Ninety-seven of 98 cases had smoked cigarettes; 79% of cases were current smokers and 20% were former smokers at the time of diagnosis compared to 13% current and 34% former smokers among controls. The ORs associated with smoking are 108.7 (95% CI 14.8-801) for ever-use of cigarettes, 278.9 (95% CI 37.0-2102) for current smoking, and 31.5 (95% CI 4. 1-241) for former smoking. Risk increases steeply with pack-years of smoking and decreases with duration of smoking cessation. After adjusting for age, education, and lifetime smoking history, medical history of physician-diagnosed respiratory disease including chronic bronchitis, emphysema, pneumonia, tuberculosis, asthma, and hay fever is not associated with a significant increase in lung cancer risk. Employment in blue collar, service, or other high risk occupations is associated with a two to three-fold non-significant increase in risk for small cell carcinoma after adjusting for smoking.

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