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Lung cancer fatalities to overtake breast cancer deaths among European women

28th January 2015: Lung cancer deaths among European women are set to overtake those from breast cancer for the first time this year. The trend is largely driven by women in the UK, say researchers. Predicted lung cancer deaths for women in Europe are set to rise by 9% between 2009 and 2015, reaching 14.24 per 100,000 of population.

In contrast, death rates from breast cancer are due to fall by 10.2%.

The UK and Poland saw the bleakest forecasts, with 2015 mortality rates of 21 and 17 per 100,000 of population respectively.

Lead researcher Professor Carlo La Vecchia, from the University of Milan, said: “UK women have long had much higher lung cancer rates than most other European countries, owing to the fact that British women started smoking during the second world war, while in most other EU countries women started after 1968.”

Dr Penny Woods, Chief Executive of the British Lung Foundation, said: “This latest forecast demonstrates once again just how poorly the UK measures up to the rest of Europe in this arena. Lung cancer rates in UK women far exceed those of their EU neighbours – and should be a cause of national embarrassment.

Troels Jordansen of LungHealth UK said “With more than four in five cases of lung cancer caused by smoking, it is essential that women and men quit smoking or better still, do not start smoking in the first place”.

Troels also added “If we are to ultimately reduce the death toll of this devastating cancer we must also see it given the same level of investment in research as we have seen in the other cancer such as breast cancer”.

“It is also essential we see greater awareness of signs and symptoms, such as a persistent cough, to improve early diagnosis.”

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