Joan Schiller, MD: Understanding Women and Lung Cancer

Dr. Joan Schiller discusses the biological differences in women and men with regards to how they metabolize the cancer causing substances (carcinogens) in lung cancer at the 2012 Multidisciplinary Symposium in Thoracic Oncology in Chicago.

Joan H. Schiller, MD is Professor and Chief of the Hematology/Oncology Division at University of Texas Southwestern, and Deputy Director of the Harold C. Simmons Cancer Center, and holds the Andrea L. Simmons Distinguished Chair in Cancer Research.

The Group Room at the 2012 Multidisciplinary Symposium in Thoracic Oncology in Chicago, was made possible, in part, by:

Daiichi Sankyo

Lilly

VIDEO TRANSCRIPT

Selma Schimmel, Founder & CEO, Vital Options International

This is Selma Schimmel in Chicago for the Group Room. We’re at the 2012 Multidisciplinary Symposium in Thoracic Oncology, which is brought to you by ASTRO, IASLC, ASCO, and the University of Chicago. And I’m so happy to be joined by Doctor Joan Schiller, Chief of Hematology and Oncology at the University of Texas, Southwestern Medical Center in Dallas. You’re also the President of the National Lung Cancer Partnership.

Joan Schiller, MD, Prof. and Chief, Hem-Onc Div. at Univ. of Texas Southwestern

I am, thank you.

Selma Schimmel:

Where are we today in our understanding of women in lung cancer, the gender component?

Joan Schiller, MD, Deputy Director, Harold C. Simmons Cancer Center:

So there are some differences between men and women, and how they either get lung cancer or how it should be treated, and one of the things we have learned in the past decade or so is that women can metabolize the cancer causing substances in cigarette smoke called carcinogens differently, causing them to build up basically so that they hang around a little bit longer than they do in men.

The other major thing I think that we are learning more and more about is that estrogen probably really does play a factor.  And we are learning more and more that even though if you are on an estrogen supplement of some type it doesn’t actually increase the chances of you getting lung cancer, but what it does do is if you get lung cancer while you happen to be on one of those pills you’re likely to do a little bit worse; that estrogens can drive lung cancer – just like other types of mutations can. And just like estrogen can drive breast cancer, for example.

Selma Schimmel:

Do we understand the role that estrogen actually would play in lung cancer?

Joan Schiller, MD:

Just like in breast cancer, it causes a cascade, once again, of chemical reactions within the cell, which wind up in the nucleus and cause those cells to grow and divide faster and faster.

Selma Schimmel:

So in men, the male hormones have no impact- only the female hormones on the women?

Joan Schiller, MD:

The way estrogen works is that it doesn’t dissolve directly into a cell, but instead it attaches onto a receptor on the outside of the cell, the estrogen receptor. And it turns out that cancer cells in both men and women can have a type of estrogen receptor called estrogen receptor beta, and men can have this ER beta as well but women on the other hand, have more estrogen circulating around. So that might be one reason that causes them to be more likely to get lung cancer.

Selma Schimmel:

What can we do, amongst the advocate community, to raise the level of understanding to empower women to overpower a lack of receptiveness- what do we have to do as an advocate community?

Joan Schiller, MD:

I think we have to challenge our physicians, and we have to challenge them to make sure that they know all the treatments out there, that they know all about the mutation studies that we’re learning about, and that they don’t just accept lung cancer as a death sentence; that there are treatments available; people can live longer and better than they ever could before, and we’re not going to be satisfied with anything less.

Selma Schimmel:

Thank you, Doctor Joan Schiller, Chief of Hematology and Oncology at the University of Texas, Southwestern Medical Center in Dallas, and President of the National Lung Cancer Partnership.

Joan Schiller, MD:

Thank you very much. Thank you, Selma.

END OF VIDEO

 

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