Page last updated at 00:11 GMT, Tuesday, 17 February 2009

Lung cancers 'to drop by fifth'

Cigarette
Smoking causes 90% of lung cancer cases

Rates of lung cancer will drop by nearly a fifth over the next 20 years, experts predict.

Cancer Research UK analysis suggests that by 2024, 40 per 100,000 people will get the cancer compared with the current rate of 50 per 100,000.

Researchers said measures such as the smoking ban meant the number of smokers would continue to fall.

But they warned the ageing population meant the number living with the disease could actually increase.

Lung cancer mostly strikes older age groups due to the delay between smoking and the onset of the disease.

These figures highlight just how effective tobacco control measures can be and how important it is for work to continue in this area
Jean King, Cancer Research UK's director of tobacco control

The researchers said that meant the actual number of people with lung cancer could rise from 38,500 to more than 41,600 by 2024.

Smoking causes around 90% of lung cancers and men are more likely to suffer than women due to the fact they have been more likely to smoke.

The Cancer Research UK team analysed disease and population data from organisations such as the Office for National Statistics.

They predict that by 2024 there will be 18,000 women a year being diagnosed and 22,000 men.

Cancer rates have been falling since the early 1970s when more than 150 men per 100,000 were diagnosed with the disease, reflecting the peak in smoking rates in the 1940s and 1950s.

Report co-author Professor Max Parkin said: "These predictions are based on what we know to date about the current figures and trends for lung cancer.

"As fewer people smoke we should see a lower rate of the disease."

Jean King, Cancer Research UK's director of tobacco control, said: "These figures highlight just how effective tobacco control measures can be and how important it is for work to continue in this area.

"We know that nine in 10 cases of lung cancer are caused by smoking but that one in five people still smoke, so it's vital we all work to protect future generations from this scourge."

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