The number of women living with lung cancer in the UK is set to increase by almost 70,000 over the next three decades, according to new research released today.
Macmillan Cancer Support has predicted lung cancer rates will rise 35 times faster amongst women, meaning that more than twice as many women will have the disease, compared to men in Scotland.
The number of people living with lung cancer in Scotland is set to more than double in the next 30 years, the research estimates, meaning around 12,000 could suffer from the disease. That rate is currently 5,500
Macmillan’s research predicted that there will be 95,000 women with the illness UK-wide by 2040, compared to 26,000 in 2010. The number of UK men living with the illness is expected to increase 8 per cent from 39,000 in 2010 to 42,000 by 2040.
Experts say the number of women with lung cancer has yet to peak. That is because the smoking rate amongst women hit its highest level later than the peak for men.
Macmillan’s general manager in Scotland Allan Cowie said: “In the past lung cancer has to an extent been seen as an illness that affects men, however this new research shows that it is vital that both sexes know the symptoms of lung cancer and get themselves checked out if they have any concerns. We know one of the reasons more women will be living with lung cancer in the future is that our population is ageing and an older population increases the risk of cancer.
“However this also poses challenges in detecting cancer early as we know older people tend to wait longer to visit the doctor when they are ill.”
He added: “This research shows it is vitally important that the Scottish Government’s Detect Cancer Early Campaign makes it a priority to raise awareness of lung cancer among women, while also encouraging older women in particular to get themselves checked out as early as possible if they have any symptoms.”
According to ISD Scotland, the NHS’s Information Services Division, the incidence of lung cancer in men fell by 15 per cent from 2000 to 2010, while it increased by 16.5 per cent in women. Mortality also fell for men by 20.4 per cent, while increasing by 11.1 per cent in females. Survival rates for both genders increased.
In 2011, 2,200 men and 1,976 women died from lung cancer in Scotland.
The Macmillan-funded research by King’s College London, suggests that by 2040, just under half of women with lung cancer will be alive at least five years from diagnosis compared with three-fifths of men.
According to the National Cancer Research Institute, in 2010, lung cancer received a quarter of the amount of research funding compared with breast cancer. Macmillan called for better funding in light of the ageing population.