Lung cancer on increase in Tayside women
More and more women in Tayside and Fife are being diagnosed with smoking related cancers.
While the number of diagnoses of all types of cancers taken together have been falling in recent years, numbers of women with lung cancer and other cancers of the respiratory system have rocketed.
Meanwhile, menâ€™s smoking-related cancers locally have plunged.
Latest available cancer statistics show that in the year 2000 162 men in Tayside were diagnosed with lung cancer or other cancers of the respiratory system. There had been a steady fall over the previous decade, following fluctuations in the decade before that from a high of 273 diagnoses in 1984.
But in the 25-year period to 2000, diagnoses of women in Tayside with lung and other respiratory system cancers have more than doubled, showing a remorseless climb over the years from just 64 diagnoses in 1975 to 134 in 2000.
Itâ€™s a similar picture in Fife with male respiratory cancers falling from 216 in 1975 to 151 in 2000. Just 52 women in Fife were diagnosed with respiratory cancers in 1975 but that had jumped to 121 in 2000.
The Evening Telegraph uncovered the bleak local picture after Cancer Research UK highlighted national trends revealed by the latest figures compiled by the UK Association of Cancer Registries.
The cancer charity reported that Scotland bucked the UK trend by recording a fall in its number of cancer cases, while the number of cancers in England and Wales increased.
Many cancers are more common in Scotland than the rest of the UK, largely because of the countryâ€™s very high smoking rates over the last few decades.
But the new figures show lung cancer is falling faster in Scotland as a whole than in the rest of the UK, which Cancer Research UK puts down to success at persuading people to give up.
According to the new figures, 31,332 Scots developed cancer in 2000, a decrease of 4% over the three years since 1997, when cases started coming down. In men, the numbers fell by 5% over the same time period, while in women they also fell, by 3%.
In contrast, the number of cancer cases in England rose by 6% in three years and in Wales by 3%.
Until the early 1980s, Scottish men had among the highest smoking rates in the world, but over the last 20 years Scotland has been one of the worldâ€™s most successful countries at persuading people to give up. In 1978, 45% of Scots smoked, but the proportion of smokers has fallen to 31%, with 24% of Scottish men now ex-smokers.
While Scots still have very high rates of smoking-related illnesses, they are closing the gap on the rest of the UK. In men, the number of cases of lung cancer fell to 2446 in the year 2000, a 12% decrease in three years, compared with a 5% decrease among English men. Oesophageal cancer, which is also smoking-related, fell by 7% in Scottish men over the same period.
Scottish women saw cases of lung cancer decrease by just half a per cent to 1948, although in England lung cancer is still slightly increasing in women. Cancer Research UK continues to be concerned at female smoking rates, particularly as more young women take up the habit.
Dr David Brewster, director of Cancer Registration in Scotland, said, Keeping track of cancer trends is vital for research into the causes of cancer and to help focus prevention strategies and resources for treatment.
Tobacco is the single biggest cause of cancer and smoking trends are the strongest influence on the numbers of people developing the disease. Scotland has for years had a very large number of smokers, but Scottish men in particular have been giving up the habit and, as these figures show, their health is benefiting.
Professor Robert Souhami, Cancer Research UKâ€™s Director of Clinical and External Affairs, says: Itâ€™s tremendously encouraging to see cancer rates in Scotland coming down. Smoking related cancers have been the scourge of the country for half a century, but attitudes to smoking are changing in Scotland, with more quitting the habit than ever before.