According to alarming forecasts, lung cancer diagnoses in women will surpass men for the first time this year.
Cancer Research UK now wants women to be as ‘vigilant’ for symptoms of the deadly disease as they are for breast cancer.
The charity’s experts analysis 27,332 cases of lung cancer in women in the UK in 2022.
In comparison, the expected annual figure for men stands at 27,172.
Forecasts also suggest that the gap will continue to widen until at least 2040.
Since registration began, more men than women have been diagnosed with lung cancer in the UK each year. Between 2016 and 2018, there were an annual average of 25,404 new cases in men and 23,396 in women
Symptoms are often not noticeable until the disease has spread through the lungs and to other parts of the body. This means survival rates are lower than some other cancers, with about two in five people with lung cancer surviving at least a year after their diagnosis
A persistent cough, shortness of breath and fainting can all also be symptoms of lung cancer, according to Cancer Research UK
Lung cancer is the most common cause of cancer death in the UK, affecting more than 34,000 Britons each year.
But the symptoms of the disease are often not noticed until later, when the disease has spread and the treatment is less effective.
Since registration began, more men than women have been diagnosed with lung cancer in the UK each year.
Between 2016 and 2018, there were an annual average of 25,404 new cases in men and 23,396 in women.
When records began in the early 1990s, the gap was even wider.
Aliz?e Froguel, Cancer Research UK’s prevention policy manager, said: ‘From 2022-24, 49.9 per cent of new lung cancer cases are expected to occur in men, and 50.1 per cent in women.
By 2038-40, by comparison, 47.4 percent of cases will be in men, and 52.6 percent in women.
‘This change is mainly due to historical differences in the prevalence of smoking between the sexes.
“The number of smokers peaked much earlier in men than in women, so the incidence of lung cancer in men started to fall earlier than in women.”
Figures show that by the late 1970s, a higher proportion of men than women had given up smoking, with nearly as many female smokers as men in the 1980s and 1990s.
Coupled with this, women make up a larger proportion of the elderly population.
Ms Frogue added: ‘Lung cancer causes more deaths in the UK than any other cancer, and smoking is by far the leading cause of the disease.
?But budget cuts mean there aren’t enough public health campaigns to encourage people to stop smoking, and many people don’t have access to the services that will support them to do so.
“If UK governments want to prevent cancer and achieve a smoke-free UK, they urgently need to provide the vital funding needed to tackle the leading cause of cancer and save countless lives.”
It comes after the government announced last month that anyone in England who has ever smoked will be screened for lung cancer at middle age.
The national program is expected to detect cancer faster in as many as 9,000 people each year, increasing their chances of survival.
Smoking is the most common cause of lung cancer, according to the NHS, accounting for more than 70 out of 100 cases.
But people who have never smoked can also get the disease, which mainly affects the elderly. More than four in ten people diagnosed are over 75 years old.
Between 2016 and 2018, there were an average of 25,404 new cases of lung cancer in men and 23,396 in women each year. However, the analysis by Cancer Research UK for The Guardian also suggested that about 34,835 women and 31,353 men would be diagnosed with the disease by 2038-40.
There are two main forms of the disease: non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC) and small cell lung cancer (SCLC).
The former accounts for eight out of ten cases and is a less aggressive form of the disease.
While the latter, small cell lung cancer, is very aggressive and usually spreads more quickly. The survival rate is usually lower for SCLC.
Symptoms are often not noticeable until the disease has spread through the lungs and to other parts of the body.
This means survival rates are lower than for some other cancers, with about two in five people with lung cancer surviving at least a year after their diagnosis.
Paula Chadwick, managing director of the Roy Castle Lung Cancer Foundation, spoke about Cancer Research UK’s projections and urged women to be ‘vigilant’.
While we are not surprised by these latest numbers, they still paint a very grim picture. That said, knowledge can equate to power,” she said.
“These calculations can serve as an important reminder to women about the prevalence of lung cancer and potentially minimize the devastation it can cause,” she added.
?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 possible lung cancer symptoms and to undergo lung screening, if invited.”
WHAT IS LUNG CANCER?
Lung cancer is one of the most common and serious cancers.
Around 47,000 people are diagnosed with the condition each year in the UK.
There are usually no signs or symptoms in the early stages of lung cancer, but many people with the condition eventually develop symptoms, including:
– a persistent cough
– coughing up blood
– persistent shortness of breath
– unexplained tiredness and weight loss
– an ache or pain when breathing or coughing
If you have these symptoms, you should see a doctor.
Types of lung cancer
There are two main forms of primary lung cancer.
These are classified according to the type of cells in which the cancer begins to grow.
– Non-small cell lung cancer. The most common form, accounting for more than 87 percent of cases.
– It can be one of three types: squamous cell carcinoma, adenocarcinoma or large cell carcinoma.
– Small cell lung cancer ? a less common form that usually spreads more quickly than non-small cell lung cancer.
– The type of lung cancer you have determines which treatments are recommended.
Who is affected
Lung cancer mainly affects older people. It is rare in people under 40 years of age.
More than four in ten people with lung cancer in the UK are aged 75 and over.
Although people who have never smoked can get lung cancer, smoking is the most common cause (accounting for about 72 percent of cases).
This is because smoking involves regularly inhaling a number of different toxins.
Treat lung cancer
Treatment depends on the type of mutation the cancer has, how far it has spread, and how good your general health is.
If the condition is diagnosed early and the cancer cells are confined to a small area, surgery to remove the affected part of the lung may be recommended.
If surgery is not suitable due to your general health, radiotherapy may be recommended instead to destroy the cancer cells.
If the cancer has spread too far for surgery or radiotherapy to be effective, chemotherapy is usually used.
There are also a number of medications known as targeted therapies.
They target a specific change in or around the cancer cells that helps them grow.
Targeted therapies cannot cure lung cancer, but they can slow its spread.
Source: health service