Scottish lung cancer rates rise for women over 40 years

Female smoker Image copyright Thinkstock
Image caption The number of female smokers did not drop significantly until the 1970s

Lung cancer rates in women have almost doubled in Scotland over the past 40 years, according to a charity.

Cancer Research UK said the number of females diagnosed with the disease had climbed 97% since 1975.

Although more men still die from lung cancer there has been a 40% drop in the rate among males over the same period.

The charity said the figures reflected smoking trends in the UK, with the number of male smokers falling from the 1950s.

It was not until two decades later that the number of female smokers began dropping significantly.

Lung cancer is the most common cancer in Scotland and also the biggest killer of all the cancers, according to the charity.

'Signs and symptoms'

About 4,200 people die of the disease every year in Scotland, and about 86% of all cases are linked to tobacco.

It also has one of the lowest survival rates, with more than two-thirds of patients diagnosed too late for them to be offered successful treatment.

Cancer Research has called for an increased awareness of the disease and more fundraising to help fight it.

Director of early diagnosis Sara Hiom said: "We need to improve awareness of the possible signs and symptoms of lung cancer and urge people - especially those at increased risk - to go to their doctor without delay if they spot any symptoms.

"We know that if people go to their GP as soon as they're aware of symptoms it can make all the difference and save lives.

"Look out for feeling more breathless than usual or for much of the time, a cough that has lasted longer than three weeks, an existing cough that has changed or got worse or coughing up blood. If you notice any of these or have worries about unusual changes, make an appointment to see your doctor."

Persistent cough

Claire Cameron, from Bathgate, West Lothian, lost her mother Jane Liddell to lung cancer in February 2012, aged 59.

Ms Cameron, 33, said the non-smoker had suffered from a severe, persistent cough and was referred to a specialist who gave her the news.

She said: "Mum was ill for such a long time and we had to push her to go back and back to the doctor as she was one of those people who didn't want to waste her doctor's time. No-one suspected lung cancer, mum wasn't a smoker.

"When I look back now after all the recent TV advertising urging people with a cough to see their doctor, it all adds up. I only wish that things had been different for mum and that we had all been as aware.

"I urge anyone who has even the slightest of symptoms to keep getting it checked and, if you see no improvement, keep going back to the doctor."

Health Secretary Alex Neil said the Scottish government was running a high-profile campaign to encourage people to get checked early.

"We are also the first country in the world to trail a new ground-breaking test to detect lung cancer earlier," he added.

"If it works, it could lead to lung cancer being diagnosed, not just months, but in some cases years earlier."

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