My mom smoked from the age of 12 until her mid-40s and developed terminal lung cancer. She was like a lot of women in the early 1970s who started smoking around WWII and suffered the consequences.
In the most recent ‘Mad Men’ episode one of the major female characters, Betty Draper, was diagnosed but her doctor wouldn’t tell her until her husband came to the office. It wasn’t unusual treatment. Doctors routinely wouldn’t tell women or cancer patients but would tell their husbands or family. Treatments options were limited and often nothing at all was done if the patient wasn’t experiencing much in the way of symptoms. Life expectancy was poor and many, like my mom, only received palliative care towards the end of their lives.