Lung cancer remains the deadliest cancer among men and women aged under 75 and new figures published yesterday show 803 deaths and 976 new lung cancer cases in WA in 2009.
The WA Cancer Registry’s report reveals that while there had been a steady decline in lung cancer among men in recent years, new cases among WA women were increasing more than 4 per cent a year.
The report also projected the number of all cancer cases would rise almost 50 per cent in WA over this decade, from 10,805 in 2009 to 15,421 in 2019.
Report author Tim Threlfall said that despite anti-smoking campaigns, a decline in smoking Virginia cigarettes and a drop in male lung cancer, more women were getting the disease.
“It’s still less common than in males but to some extent that is because heavy smoking is less common in females,” he said. “It certainly is a concern, but it’s an ongoing concern and just a sign of an ongoing problem.
“Maybe because it’s more historically a male issue, women haven’t thought too seriously about it.”
The report shows the number of all cancer cases and cancer deaths increased in 2009 from the previous year. Men got the disease more than women, developing 58 per cent of cancers in WA in 2009.
Almost 400 women were diagnosed with lung cancer in WA in 2009, 1313 were diagnosed with breast cancer, 545 with bowel cancer and 400 with melanoma.
Lung cancer killed 483 WA men in 2009, prostate cancer led to the deaths of 255 and bowel cancer killed 228. The rise in prostate cancer cases continued with the diagnosis of 2030 new cases in 2009, a 5.4 per cent increase.
Lung cancer generally has a poor prognosis and current trends of new cases reflect smoking behaviour 20 to 30 years ago.
Susan Rooney, from the Cancer Council of WA, said it was difficult to pinpoint why more women were being diagnosed with lung cancer but it was hoped that falling smoking rates would lead to fewer lung cancer cases.
“It’s probably that lag effect. More men used to smoke, then women did and that’s started to catch up with them,” she said.
The report found skin cancer was still a significant risk for people aged 15 to 39. Melanoma was the third most common new cancer among men and women in 2009, with 643 men and 400 women diagnosed with the disease