People might be surprised to find out that lung cancer is the leading cancer killer of women as well as men. It claims more lives annually than breast, prostate and colon cancers — combined. November is lung cancer awareness month and a great time to educate the public about how this disease impacts women.

Every seven minutes, a woman dies from lung cancer — 193 women each day. A quarter of all cancer deaths in women can be attributed to lung cancer, making it the leading cause of cancer death among women. 

But even those who have never smoked are suffering more from lung cancer. Just under 18 percent of men and women diagnosed with the disease are never-smokers, according to a 2006 report from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. That report found that lung cancer was the sixth leading cause of death among male and females.

More recent studies found that, among people who have never smoked, women were twice as likely as men to be diagnosed with lung cancer.

Other studies have found that more people who have never smoked are being diagnosed with lung cancer.

For women, lung cancer is alarmingly deadly. Less than a quarter of women — just 21 percent — survive five years after their diagnosis.

Despite the danger to women in the United States, lung cancer is underfunded. The disease receives only $1,831 per death in research funding from the National Institutes of Health, making it the least funded of the major cancers affecting women.