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Women's lung cancer rates set to rise, according to new data

Friday 12 August, 2005

Data released today shows around 5 Victorians die every day as a result of lung cancer, with almost all of these deaths due to smoking.

Lung cancer continues to be Victoria's leading cause of cancer death, and although there has been a decline in the number of deaths in men, the number of deaths in women has increased and is expected to rise even further in years to come.

The data from The Cancer Council Victoria shows that in 2003:

2,041 Victorians were diagnosed with lung cancer

  • Lung cancer claimed the lives of 1,133 Victorian men and 672 Victorian women
  • In total 1,805 Victorians died of lung cancer; the overall number of deaths was slightly higher than in 2002 with lung cancer deaths declining in men and increasing in women

Associate Professor David Ball, a cancer specialist at the Peter MacCallum Cancer Centre, said the most tragic part of lung cancer is that nearly all of the deaths could have been prevented.

'Everyday I see the human faces behind these statistics – and to see the tragic effect that lung cancer has on these people and their families is harrowing, especially considering that most cases are preventable'

""Sadly, lung cancer continues to have one of the lowest survival rates of all cancers. This is because many patients present with advanced stages of this deadly disease and may have other health problems related to tobacco smoking. Therefore their prognosis for a complete recovery is very poor.""

Associate Professor Ball said although lung cancer sits just behind breast cancer as the second leading cause of cancer deaths in Victorian women, it is expected to overtake it in the next few years.

The release of the lung cancer data coincides with the launch of new campaign linking common excuses used by smokers with the health consequences of smoking.

The hard-hitting campaign, known as Echo, features the tagline “Quitting is hard, not quitting is harder.”

CEO of VicHealth, Dr Rob Moodie, said the new campaign would highlight how continuing to smoke can place your health in jeopardy.

“If people are inspired to stop making excuses and give quitting a go, then hopefully we will see smoking rates drop and with that a reduction in all the illnesses caused by smoking, including lung cancer, heart disease and other types of cancers.”

“We have a unique opportunity in the next two years, with the arrival of graphic pack warnings and smokefree bars, clubs and workplaces, to get smoking rates even lower.”

 “There is no doubt that a sustained commitment to tobacco control and mass media campaigns during this period will lay the foundations for a future where the statistics on smoking related disease are not so grim,” said Dr Moodie.

Executive Director of Quit Victoria, Mr Todd Harper said the release of the latest lung cancer data emphasised the importance of the Echo campaign considering that lung cancer cases and death is almost always linked to past levels of smoking.

“There is about a 40 year time lag between when someone starts smoking and the development of lung cancer, so given that smoking rates among men peaked over fifty years ago it is not surprising to see the continuing decline in both incidence and mortality of lung cancer in men.”

“Women’s smoking rates peaked in the late 1970’s, so unfortunately we don’t expect to see falls in the number of lung cancer deaths in women for some time.”’

“The release of the lung cancer data today is a sobering reminder of what could happen to a smoker who continues to make excuses for not giving up,” said Mr Harper.

The Echo campaign will hit Victorian television screens on Monday

Ends

Edwina Vellar,
Media Manager
ph: (03) 9635 5400
mob: 0417 303 811
email: Edwina.Vellar@cancervic.org.au

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