Lung cancer cases rise in UK women

image captionSmoking is linked to 80% of lung cancers

Lung cancer cases in women are continuing to rise, according to figures released by Cancer Research UK.

It says more than 18,000 UK women were diagnosed with lung cancer in 2009, compared with fewer than 8,000 in 1975.

Cases of lung cancer reflect smoking rates two to three decades earlier, as more than 80% of cases are linked to tobacco.

Lung cancer is still more common in men, with more than 23,000 cases in 2009, but rates have been falling fast.

That means lung cancer incidence is now just under 59 per 100,000 UK men compared with 110 in 1975.

The comparable figure for women was 39 in every 100,000 women in 2009 - but 22 in 1975.

Wartime peak

Smoking rates for women in Britain were highest during the 1960s, with around 45% of women smoking, but that has now fallen to around 20%.

Male smoking rates peaked at 65% during WWII, down now to 22%. The lung cancer rate in men peaked three decades later.

Sara Hiom, Cancer Research UK's information director, said: "Lung cancer continues to claim far too many lives.

"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.

"Also, it's never too late to give up smoking - you will reduce your risk of developing lung cancer and other serious diseases."

Dr John Moore-Gillon, honorary medical advisor at the British Lung Foundation said: "It is concerning that, while rates of lung cancer amongst men have nearly halved over the last 35 years, they have nearly doubled in women over the same period. Lung cancer kills more women each year than breast cancer.

"The rise in rates amongst women is a direct consequence of the rising number of women who took up smoking in the 1960s and '70s. Fewer smoke now, but still far too many: the teenage girls and young women we see around us smoking today are the lung cancer statistics of the future.

"Plain packaging and a ban on the display of cigarettes at the point of sale would be a vital step in the de-glamourisation of a habit that kills."

More on this story

Related Internet Links

The BBC is not responsible for the content of external sites.