Lung cancer rates continue to rise in women as male incidence falls fast

Cancer Research UK figures signal warning for females

Rates of lung cancer in women are continuing to rise, according to figures released by Cancer Research UK.

The charity said today that more than 18,000 UK women were diagnosed with the disease in 2009. Rates of the disease have risen to 39.3 for every 100,000 UK women from 22.2 for every 100,000 in 1975 when there were fewer than 8,000 cases.

Although lung cancer is still more common in men with more than 23,000 cases in 2009, rates in men have been falling “fast”, the charity said. Male lung cancer incidence is now 58.8 per 100,000 UK men compared with 110 in 1975.

Cancer Research UK said that cases of lung cancer mirror smoking rates around two to three decades earlier as more than 80% of cases are caused by tobacco.

The new figures also reveal that the total number of UK lung cancer deaths stands at almost 35,000. 19,410 men and 15,449 women died from the disease in 2010.

Sara Hiom, Cancer Research UK’s information director, said lung cancer continues to claim “far too many” lives.

She said: “More than four in five cases of the disease are caused directly by smoking. But this means nearly one in five cases is not. It's really important that anyone with a cough that lasts for three weeks or a worsening or a change in a long-standing cough get this checked out.”

Until the late 1990s, lung cancer was the most common cancer in the UK. In 1997 it was overtaken by breast cancer, but still accounts for 14 per cent of all new cancer cases in men, and 11% in women.

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