Lung Cancer Projected to Be Leading Cause of Cancer Death in EU Women

LUNG cancer is predicted to become the leading cause of death by cancer for women in Europe this year, surpassing the number of deaths caused by breast cancer, according to a recent study.

Researchers found that whilst overall cancer deaths are projected to continue their rate of decline across the 28 EU member states, lung cancer in women is an exception, with 14.24 per 100,000 of the population predicted to lose their lives to the disease in 2015. This would be a 9% increase since 2009.

Commenting on the findings, Prof Carlo La Vecchia, Professor of Epidemiology, Faculty of Medicine, University of Milan, Milan, Italy, said: “We still have to be cautious about the lung cancer rates in women since these are predictions. The data for real death rates in 2015 in the EU as a whole will be available in 3-4 years. Further caution is required due to the fact that the absolute numbers of deaths in 2015 remains higher for breast than for lung. However, the 2015 predictions confirm our projections on long-term trends made 2 years ago that lung cancer death rates would overtake breast cancer rates in women around 2015.”

The study also highlighted the fact that there is great disparity between European countries for lung cancer death rates. Unsurprisingly, the prevalence of female smokers in each country appears to be the most important factor in this.

Prof Fabio Levi, Emeritus Professor, Faculty of Biology and Medicine, University of Lausanne, Lausanne, Switzerland, summarised: “While the downward trend in overall cancer death rates is good news, smoking still remains the greatest cause of cancer deaths in the EU. For instance, smoking probably accounts for 15-25% of all pancreatic cancers, 85-90% of all lung cancers, and is implicated in a number of other cancers too. The differences in death rates between European countries remains a concern, with higher rates in the member states that joined most recently, such as the central and eastern European countries.”

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