04.09.2018 Lung cancer: number of deaths in women could almost double by 2030 

Lungenkrebs Bild vergrößern

Cancer is the second most common cause of death in Austria today, with one in four fatalities attributable to the disease. In light of the decision to reverse parts of the Austrian smoking ban in 2018, lung cancer will be increasingly in the public eye. It is expected that the number of cases of this particular cancer among women will jump by 92% by 2030. From 7-9 September a group of 1,200 oncologists will meet at the Austria Center Vienna to discuss the latest cancer research and treatment breakthroughs. 

Cancer rates are on the increase all around the world: although survival rates for many types of cancer are improving, the overall number of cases is still predicted to increase by 68% from 2012-2030. This trend is chiefly attributable to demographic changes – but not exclusively. “Lung cancer is still the most deadly form of cancer worldwide. And the majority of lung cancer cases are caused by active or passive smoking,” explained Dr Ian Banks, Co-Chair of the 2018 European Cancer Summit in Vienna. 

First smoking rates, then lung cancer – women catching up quickly
The WHO put the number of deaths from lung cancer worldwide at 1.59m in 2012 alone. In Austria, 4,860 people were diagnosed with the disease, and 3,889 died from it. While men have traditionally been more likely to be affected, experts expect the number of cases in women to increase sharply. The reason for this is a significant rise in the proportion of female smokers over the past few decades: while the proportion of males who smoke has dropped from 39% to 27% since the 1970s, that of females has more than doubled from 10% to 22%. In 2016, lung cancer surpassed breast cancer as the most common form of the illness in women in Austria. And the trend is set to continue – by 2030, the number of cases involving females is set to increase by 110%, and the number of deaths by 92%.

New therapies still in their infancy
Despite the studies conducted – and unlike other cancers such as breast and prostate cancer – there is no preventive screening programme in place for lung cancer. As a result, the disease often remains undetected until it has already reached a late stage and metastasised. While conventional therapy revolves around surgical intervention and radiotherapy, significant strides have been made in recent years in immunotherapy – an approach which aims to reactivate the parts of the body’s immune system that have been put out of action by the cancer. “Despite new treatment options, survival rates for lung cancer have barely changed in recent years. The effectiveness of these therapies depends heavily on the type and precise location of the cancer in question, as well as the individual patient’s circumstances – put simply, they just cannot be used successfully on all people,” Banks noted. In Austria the survival rate for lung cancer in 2015 was just 19.2%. By comparison, the survival rates for breast cancer and prostate cancer were 86.3% and 91.8% respectively.

The best prevention: avoid active or passive smoking
Alongside a genetic predisposition, which currently cannot be proven in lung cancer (unlike in breast cancer), lifestyle factors play a major role: healthy diet, healthy weight, moderate alcohol consumption, regular exercise and – of course – not smoking all help to prevent lung cancer. The earlier age that people take up smoking, and the more they smoke, the higher the risk of them developing cancer. And this also applies to passive smoking, a subject which is increasingly in the public eye due to the decision to reverse an impending complete ban on smoking in bars and restaurants in Austria in 2018. However, smoking bans have been proven to reduce the risk of dying from cancer significantly, even after years of tobacco consumption. Banks clarified: “In my entire medical career I am hard pressed to think of any lung cancer patients who survived: usually they die within six to 12 months. The best form of lung cancer prevention is not smoking.” 

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Dr Ian Banks (c) Dr Ian Banks
Lung cancer (c) IAKW-AG, iStock, utah778


About IAKW-AG
Internationales Amtssitz- und Konferenzzentrum Wien, Aktiengesellschaft (IAKW-AG) is responsible for maintaining the Vienna International Centre (VIC) and operating the Austria Center Vienna (ACV). The Austria Center Vienna is Austria’s largest conference centre, with 24 halls, 180 meeting rooms, and some 22,000m² of exhibition space, and is one of the top players on the international conference circuit. 

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Carina Fuchs
Deputy Press Officer
Tel: +43-676 845 653 332
Email: carina.fuchs@acv.at