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Last Updated: Monday, 25 September 2006, 23:09 GMT 00:09 UK
Bid to combat female lung cancer
Lung cancer X-ray (Simon Fraser/Science Photo Library)
Lung cancer is a major killer
A campaign is being launched to raise awareness about the risk that women face from lung cancer.

Women Against Lung Cancer has been set up amid concerns of a rise in cases among young women in particular.

Lung cancer kills 13,500 women annually in the UK, and is responsible for 11% of all female cancers.

The campaign will press ministers to increase funding for research into the disease. At present it receives 1.4% of the national cancer research budget.

LUNG CANCER
Only 26% of women in the UK are alive one year on from diagnosis
Twice as many British women are likely to die from lung cancer than the EU average

It will also try to tackle issues such as blame and stigma which surround the disease, and the misconception that it is primarily a cancer which affects men.

Actress Dame Judi Dench, helping to launch the campaign, said: "The time has come to act - lung cancer has traditionally been seen as a disease of men who smoke but its effect on women clearly has gone unnoticed.

"That's why we're calling on mothers, daughters, sisters and friends to sign up to our campaign."

She added that "women are often the gatekeepers of family health and need to be aware of this disease.

"I believe women are a powerful force in this country and we need that kind of passion and action to fight this epidemic and prevent further deaths."

'Cinderella' cancer

Dame Gill Oliver, who will be responsible for the day-to-day direction of the campaign, said it was vital that women understood just what a threat lung cancer posed to them.

She said: "Lung cancer doesn't have the media or political appeal that breast cancer does - that's why we call it the Cinderella cancer - it gets forgotten.

"But 20% of women who get cancer in the UK will get lung cancer, which is why we believe something needs to be done."

Dame Gill said she was extremely worried by the growing number of children and young women who chose to smoke.

There has been a 5% increase in smoking since 1992 among 16- to 25-year-old women.

"There is a big awareness of the health risks but too many young women are taking up the habit and we need to stop this by offering support and help - not judgement."




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