Women's Lung Cancer Rates In The UK Expected To Surpass Men's For the First Time

By Azeezat Okunlola | Jul 6, 2023

According to Cancer Research UK, this year will be the first time that the number of women diagnosed with lung cancer in the UK will exceed the number of men. The organization estimates that 27,332 women in the UK will be diagnosed with lung cancer this year, surpassing the 27,172 men.

Lung doctors have issued cautions to women to keep an eye out for the first symptoms of the disease in light of the predicted increase.

One out of every five cancer fatalities is attributable to lung cancer, making it the leading cause of mortality in the country. Lung cancer accounts for around 34,800 deaths daily.

The projected gender difference in lung cancer diagnoses between men and women is expected to worsen in the future.

According to charity figures reported by The Guardian, there would likely be 34,835 women diagnosed with cancer in 2038-2040, compared to 31,353 males. Historically, more men than women in the UK have been diagnosed with lung cancer, but this trend has recently begun to shift.

There were 25,404 male cases of lung cancer in 2016–2018, and 23,396 female cases.

Over 55 per cent of people with stage 1 lung cancer have a five-year survival rate or above, according to the organization. In contrast, less than 5 per cent of individuals with stage 4 lung cancer are anticipated to live for at least five years following diagnosis.

“Cancer Research UK’s projections show that the number of new lung cancer cases in females could overtake the number in males this year, and that gap is set to widen by 2040,” said Alizée Froguel, the charity’s prevention policy manager. “From 2022-24, 49.9 per cent of new lung cancer cases are projected to be in males, with 50.1 per cent in females. By 2038-40, in comparison, 47.4 per cent of cases will be in males, with 52.6 per cent in females.”

She attributed the change in the gender ratio to the historically higher smoking rates among men.

“Rates of smoking peaked much earlier in males than females, so lung cancer incidence in males has started falling earlier than in females.”

Despite the "stark" image painted by the numbers, Paula Chadwick, CEO of the Roy Castle Lung Cancer Foundation, believes the forecasts will serve as an essential reminder to women and help lessen the grief.

“Women are regularly reminded of the importance of checking for lumps in their breasts and attending mammogram appointments. We now need them to be just as vigilant about potential lung cancer symptoms and going for lung screening, if invited.”

All former smokers in England will soon be eligible for lung cancer screenings as part of a new initiative to catch the disease at an earlier stage. Between the ages of 55 and 74, almost one million people will undergo screening each year.

Using general practitioner (GP) data, the initiative, which is expected to cost £270m yearly if fully established, would identify current or past smokers and deliver roughly one million scans and earlier treatment.

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