Sex-related differences in bronchial epithelial changes associated with tobacco smoking

Stephen Lam, Jean C. LeRiche, Yvonne Zheng, Andrew Coldman, Calum MacAulay, Ernest Hawk, Gary Kelloff, Adi F. Gazdar

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

82 Scopus citations


Background: Lung cancer is the most common cause of cancer death in North American women. Because smoking-related changes in the bronchial epithelium and in lung function have not been studied in detail in women, we used fluorescence bronchoscopy-directed biopsy to determine the prevalence of high-grade preinvasive lesions in former and current smokers of both sexes. Methods: Spirometry, white-light bronchoscopy, and fluorescence bronchoscopy were performed in 189 women and 212 men older than 40 years of age who had smoked 20 pack-years or more (pack-years = number of packs of cigarettes smoked per day x number of years of smoking). Results: Carcinoma in situ was found in 1.8% of the subjects, severe dysplasia was found in 6.5%, and moderate dysplasia was found in 14% (all preinvasive lesions). Compared with men, women had a lower prevalence of high-grade preinvasive lesions in the observed airways (14% versus 31%; odds ratio = 0.18; 95% confidence interval = 0.04-0.88), and women with preinvasive lesions had fewer such lesions (two- sided P = .048). The prevalence of preinvasive lesions did not change substantially for more than 10 years after cessation of smoking. Lung function was associated with the prevalence of preinvasive lesions, but the association was weaker in women than in men. If the presence of airflow obstruction was defined by an FEV1/FVC (forced expiratory volume in 1 second/forced vital capacity) value of 70% or less, only 56% of the men and 44% of the women with preinvasive lesions had abnormal lung function. Conclusion: In developing strategies for chemoprevention or early detection of lung cancer in high-risk populations, it is important to consider the effect of sex and arbitrarily chosen lung function values on the prevalence of preinvasive airway lesions.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)691-696
Number of pages6
JournalJournal of the National Cancer Institute
Issue number8
StatePublished - Apr 21 1999

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Oncology
  • Cancer Research


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