UK lung cancer death rates are predicted to fall in 2023

UK lung cancer death rates are predicted to fall in 2023
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A new study by the University of Milan has found that cancer death rates will fall by 6.5% in men and 3.7% in women.

A research team led by Carlo La Vecchia (MD) has found that 1,261,990 people will die from cancer in 2023 in the EU. Further data collected illuminates that cancer death rates in the UK mean that 172,314 people will die from the disease.

They estimated a 6.5% fall in cancer death rates in men and a 3.7% fall in women between 2018 and 2023. The research is published in Annals of Oncology.

Cancer death rates will continue to fall in most European countries

The researchers predicted that death rates from the ten most common cancers would continue to fall in most European countries in 2023. However, general death rates will increase due to ageing populations. A more significant proportion of elderly people in the population means there is a greater number at the age where they are more likely to develop and die from cancer.

The researchers calculated that nearly 5.9 million deaths were avoided in the 35 years between 1989 and 2023 in the EU-27. In the UK, 1.24 million deaths will be avoided.

Professor La Vecchia said: “If the current trajectory of declining cancer death rates continues, then it is possible there could be a further 35% reduction by 2035. More smokers quitting contribute to these favourable trends. In addition, greater efforts need to be made to control the growing epidemic in overweight, obesity and diabetes, alcohol consumption and infections, together with improvements in screening, early diagnosis and treatments.

“The advances in tobacco control are reflected in the favourable lung cancer trends, but more could be done in this respect, particularly among women, as lung cancer death rates continue to rise amongst them. No deaths from lung cancer have been avoided in women, both in the EU-27 and the UK, between 1989 and 2023.

“Pancreatic cancer is also a cause for concern, as death rates from this disease will not fall among men and will rise by 3.4% in women in the EU, although they will fall by 3.2% in women in the UK. Smoking can explain between about a quarter to a third of these deaths, and women, particularly in the middle and older age groups, did not give up smoking as early as men.”

Lung cancer death rates will drop in the UK

The research team analysed cancer death rates in the EU-27 Member States as a whole and separately in the UK. They also looked at the five most populous EU countries – France, Germany, Italy, Poland and Spain – and individual cancers affecting the stomach, intestines, pancreas, lung, breast, uterus, ovary, prostate, bladder and leukaemias for men and women. The team used data from the World Health Organization (WHO) and Eurostat from 1970 to 2018 for most EU-27 and the UK.

The researchers predicted that in the EU-27 countries, there will be an age-standardised rate (ASR) of 123.8 deaths per 100,000 men by the end of 2023. In women, the ASR cancer death rate will be 79.3 per 100,000. In the UK, the death rates will be 106.5 and 83.5 per 100,000 for men and women, respectively.

Cancer death rates will fall for all cancers in men in the EU-27 and the UK. These rates will also fall for women in the UK, whereas death rates will rise in EU women by 3.4% for pancreatic cancer and over 1% for lung cancer. There will be a 13.8% drop in lung cancer death rates in UK women, the death rate of 16.2 per 100,000 is still higher than EU women because more UK women started smoking earlier than those in the EU. Lung cancer now kills more women in the UK than breast cancer, which has a death rate of 13.5 per 100,000.

Predicted deaths from lung cancer are growing in women

The researchers looked at lung cancer death rates in five EU countries and in the UK, finding that death rates are predicted to fall in men for all six countries. However, for women, they will rise by nearly 14% in France, 5.6% in Italy and 5% in Spain. Predicted death rates did decrease in those aged 25 to 64, but an increase in those aged 65 to over 75 was noted.

“This is because women now aged 45 to 65, born in the 1960s and 1970s, have smoked less and stopped earlier than those born in the 1950s, who were in their twenties in the 1970s when smoking among young women was most prevalent,” said Professor Eva Negri from the University of Bologna (Italy), co-leader of the research.

Furthermore, bowel cancer will be the third biggest killer for women in the EU and the UK: eight and ten per 100,000, respectively. Prostate cancer will be the third biggest killer for men: 9.5 and 11.2 per 100,000 in the EU and UK, respectively.

The researchers said that organised screening programmes using low-dose CT scans could reduce deaths from lung cancer by up to 20%. However, there are no such organised programmes in Europe, and it is too early to evaluate the impact of screening in the UK following the Lung Cancer Screening trial.

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