Scotland has highest death rates from cancer in Britain

The data showed a higher rate of cancer diagnosis for Scottish women than any of the other home nations.
The data showed a higher rate of cancer diagnosis for Scottish women than any of the other home nations.
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Scotland has the highest death rates from cancer in Britain – around 15% higher than the UK average for both men and women, new figures reveal.

• Cancer diagnosis for Scots women around ten percent higher than rest of UK.

• Claims that higher smoking rates to blame.

There is also a higher rate of cancer diagnosis for Scottish women than any of the other home nations, around 10 per cent higher than the UK as a whole, according to the Office for National Statistics (ONS).

The latest data from ONS investigated cancer incidence and mortality between 2008 and 2010.

It reveals that, while there is an overall increase in the numbers being diagnosed compared to 2001-2003, fewer people are dying.

The reduction in deaths was welcomed by the charity Cancer Research, though a spokeswoman said Scotland’s higher death rate was directly fuelled by their higher smoking rates.

In Scotland, there was on average 14,461 cases of cancer diagnosed in men each year, with 15,506 in women.


For women, the incidence rates were higher in Scotland, 413 new cases per 100,000 compared to a UK average of 375.

For men it was 457 new cases per 100,000, 26 per 100 higher than the UK average.

There was an average of 7,720 men – 235 per 100,000 – and 7,480 women – 170 per 100,000 who died each year . The UK average was 204 per 100,000 for men and 150 for women. This represents a difference of 15%.

The ONS data reveals that in the UK as a whole, around 163,100 men and 159,800 women were newly diagnosed with cancer each year, with around 81,800 men and 74,400 women dying each year.

The report states: “Scotland had the highest cancer incidence rate for females, around 10% as a whole.

“Scotland also had the highest cancer mortality rates, around 15% higher than the UK average for both males and females.”

It added: “The four most common cancers – breast, prostate, lung and colorectal – accounted for around 53% of cases and 47% of deaths from cancer.”

Risk factors

Breast cancer was the most common newly diagnosed cancer for females in the UK, with an average of 49,988 each year, an incidence rate of 126 new cases per 100,000 women. It was 128 per 100,000 women in Scotland.

However, there were more lung cancer deaths in women, around 32 per 100,000 women each year.

The most common cancer in men was prostate – about 105 per 100,000 being diagnosed each year and almost 50 in 100,000 dying.

The report states: “On average 19,668 men and 15,374 women died of lung cancer each year. Mortality rates in this period were 50 deaths per 100,00 men and 32 deaths per 100,000 women.

“Mortality rates were higher in Scotland than in the other UK countries, with 65 and 46 death occurring per 100,000 men and women respectively.

“Higher rates of lung cancer are related to known risk factors such as smoking and drinking. There is some evidence that the prevalence of smoking differs across the UK.

“The General Lifestyle Survey 2009 found that 22% of males in England reported smoking compared to 24% in Scotland. Twenty per cent of female respondents in England reported smoking, compared to 24% in Scotland.”


Catherine Thomson, head of statistical information at Cancer Research UK, said: “Scotland’s higher cancer rates are mainly driven by their lung cancer rates for both men and women, fuelled by their previous and continuing higher smoking rates.

“Tobacco will kill half of all long term smokers, so it’s vital that support is offered to help those smokers ready to quit, and children are not lured into the addiction.

“Removing the slick designs of modern packs is one step we urge the government to take in helping protect children from tobacco marketing.

She added: “These UK figures show the numbers getting and dying from the three most common cancers for both sexes have not changed. For men they remain as prostate, lung and bowel; for women they are breast, lung and bowel.

“But while overall cancer incidence rates have continued to rise, deaths rates from cancer have fallen – by 11 per cent for men and by 7.5 per cent for women since the start of the century.


“So the good news is that as individuals our risk of dying from the disease has fallen. The reduction in people smoking has helped hugely for many cancers, and we’re better at diagnosing some cancers earlier.

“We’re also better at treating many cancers, with surgery, radiotherapy and chemotherapy, as well as developing more tailored personalised medicine.

“Cancer Research UK’s work is at the heart of this progress, and we’re building on these achievements by bringing knowledge from our world-class laboratories into the clinic to carry out new clinical trials to find the most effective new treatments.”