November: Lung and Pancreatic Cancers Awareness Month

Lung Cancer

Lung cancer is the leading cause of cancer death worldwide with 1.7million global deaths attributed to cigarette smoking (1). Tobacco use is the leading cause of lung cancer; 55% of lung cancer deaths in women and over 70% of lung cancer deaths in men are due to smoking (2).

A recent systematic review and metanalysis found that smoking yields a similar risk of lung cancer in women compared to men. However, these data may underestimate the true risks of lung cancer among women, as the smoking epidemic has not yet reached full maturity in women (3). Evidence suggests that within 10 years of quitting smoking, there is a 40–90% reduction in lung cancer risk, and the magnitude of risk reduction varies with the intensity of smoking, time since quitting, and age at cessation (4-6).


1. Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation. Global burden of disease 2015. 2015

2. Reitsma MB, Fullman N, Ng M, et al. Smoking prevalence and attributable disease burden in 195 countries and territories, 1990-2015: a systematic analysis from the global burden of disease study 2015. Lancet 2017;389:1885–906

3. O’Keeffe, Linda M., et al. “Smoking as a risk factor for lung cancer in women and men: a systematic review and meta-analysis.” BMJ open 8.10 (2018): e021611.

4. Gotfredsen NS, Prescott E, Osler M (2008) Effect of smoking reduction on lung cancer risk. JAMA 294: 1505–1510

5. Kenfield SA, Stampfer MJ, Rosner BA, Colditz GA (2008) Smoking and smoking cessation in relation to mortality in women. JAMA 299: 2037–2047

6. Wong, K. Y., et al. “Smoking cessation and lung cancer risk in an Asian population: findings from the Singapore Chinese Health Study.” British journal of cancer 103.7 (2010): 1093-1096.

Pancreatic Cancer

Cigarette smoking is a consistent risk factor for pancreatic cancer, which may contribute to the development of approximately 20% of pancreatic cancer cases (1). In a pooled analysis of 12 prospective cohorts and one case-control study, cigarette smokers had an 80% increased risk of pancreatic cancer compared with non smokers, and the risk increased with smoking intensity, duration, and cumulative smoking dose (2).

Cigar smoking and the use of smokeless tobacco products also increase the risk. However, the risk of pancreatic cancer starts to drop once a person stops smoking (3).

Nevertheless, cigarette smoking is associated with a reduction in survival among patients with pancreatic cancer (4).


1.  Iodice S, Gandini S, Maisonneuve P, et al: Tobacco and the risk of pancreatic cancer: A review and meta-analysis. Langenbecks Arch Surg 393:535-545, 2008

2. Lynch SM, Vrieling A, Lubin JH, et al: Cigarette smoking and pancreatic cancer: A pooled analysis from the pancreatic cancer cohort consortium. Am J Epidemiol 170:403-413, 2009

3. American Cancer Society:

3. Yuan, Chen, et al. “Cigarette smoking and pancreatic cancer survival.” Journal of Clinical Oncology 35.16 (2017): 1822.

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