Lung cancer death rates drop for men but not for women
Published 25/08/2015 | 02:30
Death rates from lung cancer among Irish men have fallen strikingly since the 1980s - but there has been little change for women over the last 30 years.
An average of 2,279 patients a year were diagnosed with the disease between 2011 and 2013, with men accounting for 1,274 - more than half - of the cases. Around 1,800 patients die from it annually.
A report has found that while more men get the disease, their death rates have dropped due to fewer of them taking up smoking.
Deaths peaked at 50 per 100,000 in the 1980s, dropping to around 30 per 100,000 now.
However, lung cancer took an increasing toll on women as more of them became addicted to smoking later on. In 2012, Irish women had the fifth highest mortality rate from lung cancer in the EU, according to the National Cancer Registry.
The death rate for women has remained at around 20 per 100,000 for women since the early 1980s.
The report found that around one in five men and women was under 60 years of age when diagnosed with lung cancer.
However, the rate per 100,000 is highest in those aged 68-70.
Survival of lung cancer patients has improved in all age groups since the 1990s, for men and women - but they remain low overall.
Smoking rates in Ireland have fallen and nationally fewer than one in five lights up.
However, smoking is stronger in less well-off areas and this continues to be reflected in the incidence of lung cancer.
The report said the rate for men in the most deprived areas was almost 80 per 100,000 - almost double that of the best-off regions.
Similarly for women, rates in the most deprived areas are 50 per 100,000 compared to 22 per 100,000 among the most financially comfortable.
During the 1990s, around one in three cases of lung cancer was unstaged but improvements in diagnostics mean this has dramatically improved.
"However, the majority of patients are still diagnosed at a late stage," said the report.
Smoking cigarettes is the single biggest risk factor for lung cancer and is linked to around 90pc of all cases. A person who smokes 20 cigarettes a day is 20 times more at risk of getting the disease than a non-smoker.
Passive smoking also increases risk. Radon, a naturally occurring radioactive gas that can accumulate in buildings, is also linked to lung cancer. Up to 250 cases of lung cancer in Ireland every year can be linked to radon.
And exposure to certain chemicals and substances that are used in several occupations and industries has been linked to a slightly higher risk of developing lung cancer.
These chemicals and substances include asbestos, arsenic, beryllium, cadmium, coal and coke fumes, silica and nickel.