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Lung cancer rates 50 per cent higher in the west of Scotland

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by Cancer Research UK | News

7 October 2008

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People living in the west of Scotland are 50 per cent more likely to be diagnosed with lung cancer than people living in the rest of the UK, according to a new report revealed at the National Cancer Research Institute (NCRI) Cancer Conference in Birmingham today (Tuesday).

The statistics, published by the National Cancer Intelligence Network (NCIN), also showed that, overall, people living in the west of Scotland were 15 per cent more likely be diagnosed with lung cancer than people from the rest of Scotland.

Professor David Forman, information lead for the NCIN who is based at the University of Leeds, said: “Smoking rates are around five per cent higher in Scotland than the rest of the UK, and this significantly contributes to the higher rates of lung cancer – smoking is responsible for nearly nine in ten cases of lung cancer.”

The figures also revealed that patients from the west of Scotland were 30 per cent more likely to die from lung cancer than those in the rest of Scotland, and that overall, the rate of people dying from lung cancer was 50 per cent higher than in the rest of the UK.

As some of the most deprived areas in the UK are in Glasgow, experts say higher levels of deprivation, resulting in a poorer lifestyle in the west of Scotland, are contributing to this gap in both lung cancer incidence and death rates in comparison with the rest of the UK.

Professor Forman continued: “We know that smoking rates are linked to deprivation – rates are around 10 per cent higher in working class communities.”

The report by the NCIN compared cancer incidence and mortality rates across the UK broken down by cancer network*. The data were compiled this year and based on new cancer cases and deaths recorded in 2005 – before the smoking ban came into place in Scotland in 2006.

In 2005, 77 per 100,000 people living in the west of Scotland were diagnosed with lung cancer, compared with 55 per 100,000 in the north of Scotland and 64 in the south east of the country. Across the UK, 49 in every 100,000 people were diagnosed with the disease.

The report also revealed that the west of Scotland is the most affected area of the UK in terms of lung cancer incidence among both men and women. The rates of lung cancer among women in the west of Scotland now exceed those of men in some parts of the UK. For example, women were almost 50 per cent more likely to get lung cancer in the west of Scotland than men in Surrey, West Sussex and Hampshire.

Professor Jim Cassidy, based at Cancer Research UK’s Beatson Institute, said: “Following the success of smokefree legislation, in May the Scottish Government launched their plan to further drive down smoking rates. Key measures included restricting the display of cigarettes at points of sale, taking action to reduce smuggled and counterfeit cigarettes and working with the rest of the UK to consider using plain packaging for cigarettes. These measures would particularly help reduce smoking uptake in young people. We strongly support the Government’s commitment and look forward to real progress in these areas.”

Professor Sir Alex Markham, chair of the NCIN, said: “Scotland has led the UK in protecting workers and the public from the dangers of secondhand smoke and has every right to be proud. But higher smoking rates in Scotland still account for much of the difference in cancer rates between England and Scotland.

“It’s crucial that we collect and analyse data like this to pick up on variations in lung cancer across the country. This information can help target anti-smoking policies where it matters, and this is vitally important.”


For media enquiries please contact the Cancer Research UK press office on 020 7061 8300, or the out-of-hours duty press officer on 07050 264059.