MORE women are dying of lung cancer in the Lothians today than ten years ago, new figures have revealed.
Cancer deaths across Scotland are generally down on a decade ago, with the number of male lung cancer deaths down by 23 per cent.
But the number of women dying from the disease has increased by a significant 6.4 per cent over the past ten years.
And in Lothian, female deaths from lung cancer rose from 228 in 1997 to 261 last year.
The annual update of cancer mortality statistics shows more than 15,000 people died from cancer in Scotland in 2006.
In Lothian, the mortality figures from last year were broadly the same as ten years ago. The number of men who died of cancer last year was 1068, up slightly on the 1997 figure of 1060. But the number of women who died fell from 1071 in 1997 to 1015 last year.
The total figures for Scotland show cancer claimed the lives of 7692 men and 7333 women in 2006.
A spokesman for the NHS statistics division said: "Taking all cancers combined, age-standardised cancer mortality rates have decreased by about eight per cent over the last ten years, with a greater decrease in males than in females.
"The cancers that account for the greatest number of deaths are lung, colorectal, breast and prostate. All of these are decreasing, except lung cancer in females, which continues to increase."
Lung cancer was still the most common killer, responsible for the deaths of 2162 men and 1900 women.
The second most common cause of cancer deaths for men was colorectal cancer, which killed 835. But again the mortality rate has fallen over the last decade, going down by 17.7 per cent.
In women breast cancer is the second most common cause of cancer deaths, killing 1,108 Scottish females in 2006. However, the mortality rate for the disease down by 11.5 per cent over the last ten years.
This improvement is likely to be down to new treatments, earlier diagnosis of the disease in women taking part in breast screening and better organisation and delivery of care for patients.
Prostate cancer is the third most common cancer killer for men, with 779 males dying as a result of the disease last year, although again mortality rates are down 8.4 per cent over the decade.
And in women the third most common cause of cancer deaths is colorectal cancer, which claimed the lives of 715 females in 2006. However, the mortality rate for this has decreased by 21.2 per cent over the last decade.
Mortality rates have fallen for seven of the ten most common causes of cancer deaths in both men and women. But over the same period there has been a 40.3 per cent increase in mortality rates for male brain cancer cases.
A total of 61 per cent of men and 71 per cent of women diagnosed with cancer between 1997 and 2001 survived one year after diagnosis, with 43 per cent of men and 54 per cent of women still alive five years after the disease was detected.
That five-year survival rate compares to 25 per cent for men diagnosed between 1977 and 1981 and 36 per cent for women diagnosed in the same period.