Lung Cancer Deaths in Women to Rise Globally by 2030

Nick Mulcahy

August 03, 2018

Lung cancer mortality rates among women are projected to rise globally by 43% by 2030 and exceed deaths from breast cancer, new research indicates.

During the study period, the global mortality rate for breast cancer is projected to decrease by 9%.

The mortality rate for lung cancer will be higher than that for breast cancer in women in 26 of the 52 analyzed countries, say the authors, led by Juan Carlos Martin-Sanchez, PhD, from the Universitat Internacional de Catalunya, Sant Cugat del Valles, Spain.

The study was published online August 1 in Cancer Research.  

However, the study comes with a considerable caveat — the projections assume that recent trends will continue for the next two decades. The authors admit that "this situation is unlikely to happen."

Foremost, smoking is shifting from conventional, combustible cigarettes to electronic systems. Still, the authors also observe that the "real impact" in terms of lung cancer of "heat-not-burn" products such as e-cigarettes is uncertain. Another variable is that lung cancer screening in affluent countries could decrease the mortality rate among women.

Despite these uncertainties, the authors conclude that "[lung cancer] prevention efforts should focus on smoking avoidance and cessation."

Currently, the leading cancers worldwide in terms of mortality among woman are breast, colorectal, lung, cervix, and stomach, say the authors.

In their new study, the European team focused on lung and breast cancer to identify their international mortality patterns.

The investigators gathered lung and breast cancer mortality data from the World Health Organization Mortality Database from 2008 to 2014. And they used population projections from the United Nations Population Division for 5-year intervals from 2015 to 2030 to make their calculations about the future.

Fifty-two countries around the world had data that fit the study criteria, which included having at least 4 years of mortality data. The countries included 14 from the Americas (including the United States), 7 from Asia (not including China), 29 from Europe, and 2 from Oceania. No countries from Africa qualified.

Age-standardized mortality rates (ASMRs) in women (reported as per 100,000 person-years) were calculated by using a world standard population.

Overall, the projected ASMR for lung cancer among women is increasing, from 11.2 ASMR in 2015 to 16.0 in 2030. And for breast cancer, the ASMR is decreasing from 16.1 to 14.7.

The highest ASMRs for both lung and breast cancer come from high-income countries, such as the United States and some members of the European Union. This is partially due to women living longer in more affluent countries, say the authors. With regard to lung cancer, this is related to increasing numbers of women with a history of smoking.

The overall drop in ASMR for breast cancer is likely due to early detection via screening and improved treatments, say the authors.

The authors have disclosed no relevant financial relationships.

Cancer Res Published online August 1, 2018. Abstract  

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