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Lung Cancer Mortality Among Women Projected to Increase by 43% Worldwide by 2030

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Key Points

  • Globally, by 2030, the lung cancer mortality rate among women is projected to increase by 43%, and the breast cancer mortality rate is projected to decrease by 9%.
  • The mortality rates for breast and lung cancers in women are projected to be higher in high-income countries than in middle-income countries, where lung cancer mortality is expected to surpass breast cancer mortality before 2030.
  • Since low-dose computed tomography implementation is still a matter of debate and with breast cancer mortality decreasing, lung cancer prevention strategies should focus on smoking avoidance and cessation.

According to a report by the International Agency for Research on Cancer, cancer is among the leading causes of morbidity and mortality worldwide, with an estimated incidence of 14 million new cases of the disease and 8.2 million cancer deaths in 2012.

A study analyzing breast and female lung cancer mortality data from the World Health Organization (WHO) to identify international patterns of joint variation in lung and breast cancer mortality by 2030 has found that the global age-standardized mortality rate (ASMR) of lung cancer in women is projected to increase by 43%, and the ASMR of breast cancer is projected to decrease by 9%. In addition, the mortality for lung and breast cancers is projected to be higher in high-income countries than in middle-income countries, where lung cancer mortality is expected to surpass breast cancer mortality before 2030. The study by Martín-Sánchez et al was published in Cancer Research.

Study Methodology

The researchers obtained breast and female lung cancer mortality data from the WHO Mortality Database from 2008 to 2014. Lung cancer and breast cancer mortality rates and population were grouped by country, year, and age. Population data were also available for the projected years (2015, 2020, 2025, and 2030) and were obtained from the United Nations Population Division.

For inclusion in the study, countries must have reported data for at least 4 years between 2008 and 2014 and have a population greater than 1 million. A total of 52 countries fulfilled these criteria: 29 from Europe, 14 from the Americas, 7 from Asia, and 2 from Oceania. Lung and breast cancer ASMRs in women, reported as per 100,000 person years, were calculated for each country using a Bayesian log-linear Poisson model.

Study Findings

The researchers found that the median global ASMRs for lung cancer are projected to increase from 11.2 in 2015 to 16.0 by 2030, with the highest rates projected in Europe and Oceania and the lowest rates projected in the Americas and Asia. Only Oceania is predicted to see a decrease in lung cancer mortality, which is projected to drop from 17.8 in 2015 to 17.6 in 2030.

Globally, the ASMRs for breast cancer are expected to decrease from 16.1 in 2015 to 14.7 in 2030. The highest breast cancer mortality rate is predicted in Europe, with a decreasing trend overall, whereas the lowest breast cancer mortality rate is predicted in Asia, with an increasing trend overall.

According to the study findings, the mortality for lung and breast cancers is higher in high-income countries than in middle-income countries, and lung cancer mortality is lower in the latter because the tobacco epidemic is not yet widespread. “Due to these observed characteristics of lung cancer, primary prevention should still be a key factor to decrease lung cancer mortality,” concluded the researchers.

Reducing the Impact of Lung Cancer

“While we have made great strides in reducing breast cancer mortality globally, lung cancer mortality rates among women are on the rise worldwide,” said Jose M. Martínez-Sánchez, PhD, MPH, BSc, Associate Professor and Director of the Department of Public Health, Epidemiology and Biostatistics at the Universitat Internacional de Catalunya in Barcelona, in a statement. “If we do not implement measures to reduce smoking behaviors in this population, lung cancer mortality will continue to increase throughout the world.”

Funding for this study was provided by the Ministry of Universities and Research of the Government of Catalonia.

The content in this post has not been reviewed by the American Society of Clinical Oncology, Inc. (ASCO®) and does not necessarily reflect the ideas and opinions of ASCO®.


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