Lung Cancer Now Leads in Cancer Mortality in Developed Nations

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Lung cancer has overtaken breast cancer as the leading cancer killer of women in developed countries.
Lung cancer has overtaken breast cancer as the leading cancer killer of women in developed countries.

Lung cancer has overtaken breast cancer as the leading cancer killer of women in developed countries, reflecting changing smoking patterns among females worldwide, according to a new report published in CA: A Cancer Journal for Clinicians.

The disease is almost always caused by smoking, lead researcher Lindsey Torre, M.S.P.H., an epidemiologist at the American Cancer Society, told HealthDay.

"But it takes about two to three decades to see lung cancer deaths due to smoking, because lung cancer does take a long time to develop," she said. "The lung cancer deaths we are seeing today really have to do with smoking trends we saw in the 1970s, when women really started to pick up smoking."

"In many developed countries breast cancer death rates have been stable or decreasing for the past couple of decades, which is due to early detection and improved treatments," said Torre. At the same time, lung cancer death rates worldwide have continued to increase.

However, in the United States, the death rate from lung cancer has leveled off, she added. Torre expects that as smoking rates among women decline, lung cancer rates in developed countries will also decline over the next 30 years.

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In developing countries, however, lung cancer rates and deaths are expected to increase as more men and women take up smoking, according to Torre.

Already, lung cancer is the leading cause of cancer deaths for men in developing countries, while breast cancer remains the main cause of female cancer deaths in developing countries.

In 2012, an estimated 14.1 million new cancer cases and 8.2 million cancer deaths occurred worldwide, according to the report.

Reference

  1. Torre, Lindsey A., MSPH, et al. "Global cancer statistics, 2012." CA: A Cancer Journal for Clinicians. DOI: 10.3322/caac.21262. February 4, 2015.

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