Cancer Research UK, recently released figures that show lung cancer rates among women to have almost doubled over the past 40 years or so in Scotland (a 97% climb since 1975). However, these new figures are still below those of men, where over the same period of time lung cancer cases have dropped (40%), but not sufficient enough to move men down into second place behind women (more men still die every year of lung cancer in the UK than women).
The charity commented on the reason behind the reduction of cancer cases in men due to the falling rate of smokers since the 1950s. Around 2-decades later it was noted that women smokers also started to drop off; however, women smokers seem to be on the increase again in many parts of the UK – and more so in Scotland. Lung cancer cases in Scotland are the most common of all cancers to be diagnosed in both men and women (over 40 years), and with it now making its way to the number-1 spot as Scotland's biggest cancer killer.
Around 4,200 sufferers, die from the disease every year in Scotland, with about 87% of all cases accredited to smoking (directly or passively [the second-hand inhalation of smoke]). Scotland is also accredited with the number-1 spot where more lung cancer sufferers will die from the disease than in any other part of the UK (two-thirds of patients diagnosed with the disease are diagnosed too late [at a stage IV (4) where there is little hope of a reasonable prognosis [life-expectancy] for the patient]).
General prognosis for non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC) stage IV is considered low, with only 10% – 15% of sufferers surviving past the 5-year post, and for small-cell lung cancer (SCLC) being ever worse (5 % – 10% 5-years survival rate [2 – 4-months when left untreated]) – prognosis may be influenced by circumstances individual to the patient (age, gender, health, treatment options and response). The later the stage at which lung cancer is diagnosed, the more difficult it is to treat (less or no treatment options may be available).
It was commented on by the same charity, that more awareness of the symptoms of lung cancer should be made available, together with more fund-raising to help fight the disease. The following were advised: improve awareness about the disease (especially to those who are most at risk from the disease [preliminary smokers]), and to urge people to go to the doctors at the first signs and symptoms of lung cancer (a persistent cough [lasting more than 3-weeks] is usually a clear sign of the disease).
Other signs and symptoms of the disease may include: a shortness of breath, coughing-up blood or having brown colored spit, fatigue with no reason, fevers not connected to any obvious cause, hoarse voice, loss of appetite, pains (in the chest area), recurrent bronchitis or pneumonia, swelling around the face or neck, and weight-loss when no exercise regime has been put in place.
The Scottish government is now in the mist of a heavily run lung cancer awareness campaign that is hoped will encourage people to get checked-out when any of the previously mentioned symptoms become apparent. Scotland is also the first country to trial a new ground-breaking test for the disease – which if successful, it is believed could detect lung cancer years earlier than would have otherwise been the case.