East of England: Rise in number of women diagnosed with lung cancer

LUNG cancer cases continue to rise in women in the East of England, according to new figures.

Cancer Research UK announced today (Friday) that around 1,400 women in the region are diagnosed with the disease each year.

Lung cancer rates in the region have risen to 31.3 for every 100,000 women from 28.6 in the mid eighties when there were around 970 cases each year.

In the UK more than 18,000 women were diagnosed with the disease in 2009.

Lung cancer is still more common in men – with around 1,900 cases in the East of England each year – but rates have been falling fast. Male lung cancer incidence is now 50.7 per 100,000 men in the region compared with 92.6 in the mid eighties.

In the East of England there are around 2,800 deaths from lung cancer each year.

New figures 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.

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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 per cent in women.

Anti smoking measures

Cases of lung cancer in the UK mirror smoking rates around two to three decades earlier as more than 80 per cent of cases are caused by tobacco.

Cancer Research UK said smoking rates for women in Great Britain were highest throughout the “Mad Men” era of the 1960s, with around 45 per cent of women smoking. This has since fallen to 20 per cent.

Anti-smoking measures - such as the tobacco advertising ban and the legislation making public places smokefree - have also meant the number of smokers has continued to drop.

Large shops and supermarkets have recently removed tobacco from sight, with smaller retailers doing the same in 2015.

The government is also due to consult on removing all branding from tobacco packaging. This would mean the glitzy, brightly-coloured packs would become a uniform colour, size and shape.

Further measures at EU level could introduce large picture warnings on the front and back of the pack.

Tobacco link

Jean King, Cancer Research UK’s director of tobacco control, said: “These latest figures highlight the deadly impact of tobacco.

“The continuing rise of lung cancer in women reflects the high number of female smokers several decades ago when attitudes were different.

“Tobacco advertising hasn’t appeared on UK television since 1965, but that didn’t stop the marketing of cigarettes.

“New, more sophisticated marketing techniques have lured many hundreds of thousands into starting an addiction that will kill half of all long term smokers.”

Lynn Daly, Cancer Research UK’s spokesperson for the East of England, 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.

She added that it was really important that anyone with a cough that lasts for three weeks or who has a worsening or a change in a long-standing cough get it checked out.

“It’s never too late to give up smoking,” she said. “You will reduce your risk of developing lung cancer and other serious diseases.

“Your GP or local pharmacy can advise you where to find your local NHS support services.”