In recent years there has been an increase in the incidence of lung cancer in women so much so that the rate of increase exceeds the rate of increase in men. This change in incidence has been associated with cigarette smoking and as it is considered that smoking is connected mainly with the squamous and undifferentiated forms of tumour it might be expected that a recent change in the proportions of the different histological groups would be demonstrable.
All histological sections of proven cases of lung cancer in women seen between 1955 and 1971 at the Sheffield Royal Infirmary have been reviewed. A rise in the proportion of female cases attending hospital was noted but this rise has been associated with an increase in the proportion of cigarette smokers only in recent years. However, there is no good evidence of a change in the histological pattern of the disease and no statistically significant evidence of a connection between cigarette smoking and any particular cell type in the cases studied. Comparison with other studies confirms that cigarette smoking has only a small influence on the cell type of lung cancers in British women, but in American women there is a strong association between smoking and tumours of Kreyberg's group I. This appears to be a real and unexplained difference between the behaviour of lung cancers in British and American women.
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