Lung cancer deaths still on the increase

By Mardi Chapman

28 Nov 2018

Mortality rates for lung cancer are declining given the peak in tobacco consumption has passed, but the number of deaths for Australian men and women will continue to rise until 2040.

An analysis of data showed deaths will continue to rise by 7.9% for men and 57.9% for women given population growth and an ageing population.

The study found age-standardised mortality rates are projected to decline from 27.2 per 100,000 during 2011-2015 to 15.1 per 100,000 for men in 2036-2040 and from 15.8 to 11.8 per 100,000 for women.

However the number of deaths will increase from 24,831 to 26,805 for men and from 16,209 to 25,598 for women over the 25-year period.

“Unfortunately this considerable lag implies that lung cancer rate in the intermediate term (to 2040), cannot be substantially altered via further current initiatives in tobacco control alone, although it is very important to note that the benefits of current and new tobacco control policies will be manifest thereafter (estimating these benefits are the subject of our future work),” said the study authors from the Cancer Research Division, Cancer Council NSW.

The analysis assumed a 26-year time lag between tobacco exposure and lung cancer mortality for men and 29 years for women.

Some factors such as duration of smoking and age of initiation of smoking were not incorporated into the analysis given some of the data was not available.

The researchers said while a continued reduction in smoking rates remains a public health priority, other initiatives such as lung cancer screening and effective treatments were also important.

“Some recent positive developments in lung cancer screening and treatment include the validation of a lung cancer risk assessment tool to identify high risk individuals for targeted lung cancer screening in a large-scale population-based Australian cohort study, and that several randomised controlled trials in the USA and other countries have shown short term benefits of targeted therapy for lung cancer.”

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