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Lung cancer mortality statistics

Mortality statistics for lung cancer by country in the UK, age and trends over time are presented here. There are also data by geography and socio-economic variation. The ICD codes for lung cancer are ICD-10 C33-C34.

The latest mortality statistics available for lung cancer in the UK are 2011. Find out why these are the latest statistics available.

By country in the UK

Lung cancer has an enormous impact on national mortality and currently accounts for 6% of all deaths (including non-cancer deaths) in the UK. There are over twice as many deaths from lung cancer as the next ranked cancer, bowel cancer.

Lung cancer is the most common cause of cancer death in the UK (2011), accounting for more than 22% of all deaths from cancer. Lung cancer is the most common cause of cancer death among men in the UK (2011), accounting for 23% of all male deaths from cancer.1-3 Lung cancer is also the most common cause of cancer death in women in the UK (2011), accounting for 21% of all female cancer deaths. 

In 2011, there were 35,184 deaths from lung cancer in the UK (Table 2.1): 19,596 (56%) in men and 15,588 (44%) in women, giving a male:female ratio of around 13:10.1-3 The crude mortality rate shows that there are 63 lung cancer deaths for every 100,000 males in the UK, and 48 for every 100,000 females.

The European age-standardised mortality rates (AS rates) are significantly higher in Scotland compared with the other constituent countries of the UK (Table 2.1).1-3 The rate in England is also significantly lower than in Wales and Northern Ireland for males only.4

Table 2.1: Lung Cancer (C33-C34), Number of Deaths, Crude and European Age-Standardised (AS) Mortality Rates per 100,000 Population, UK, 2011

England Wales Scotland Northern Ireland UK
Male Deaths 15,707 1,132 2,200 557 19,596
Crude Rate 60.1 75.2 86.3 62.6 63.1
AS Rate 45.3 50.1 64.0 54.3 47.4
AS Rate - 95% LCL 44.6 47.2 61.3 49.8 46.7
AS Rate - 95% UCL 46.0 53.1 66.7 58.9 48.0
Female Deaths 12,459 796 1,978 355 15,588
Crude Rate 46.2 51.0 73.1 38.4 48.5
AS Rate 29.8 30.2 45.2 28.3 31.1
AS Rate - 95% LCL 29.2 28.1 43.2 25.4 30.6
AS Rate - 95% UCL 30.3 32.3 47.2 31.3 31.6
Persons Deaths 28,166 1,928 4,178 912 35,184
Crude Rate 53.0 62.9 79.5 50.3 55.6
AS Rate 36.6 38.9 53.1 39.7 38.2
AS Rate - 95% LCL 36.2 37.2 51.5 37.1 37.8
AS Rate - 95% UCL 37.0 40.7 54.8 42.3 38.6

Download this table XLS (34KB) PPT (168KB) PDF (223KB)

95% LCL and 95% UCL are the 95% lower and upper confidence limits around the AS rate

section reviewed 03/01/14
section updated 03/01/14

 

By age

Lung cancer mortality is strongly related to age, with the highest mortality rates being in older men and women. In the UK between 2009 and 2011, an average of 47% of lung cancer deaths were in men and women aged 75 years and over, and almost nine in ten (89%) were in people aged 60 and over (Figure 2.1).1-3

Age-specific mortality rates rise sharply from around age 45, with the highest rates in the 85+ age group in men and at age 80-84 years in women. Mortality rates are generally similar between males and females until age 50-54, after which time rates are higher for males than females and this gap is widest in the 85+ age group, when the male:female mortality ratio of age-specific rates (to account for the different proportions of males to females in each age group) is 22:10 (Figure 2.1).1-3

Figure 2.1: Lung Cancer (C33-C34) Average Number of Deaths per Year and Age-Specific Mortality Rates, UK, 2009-2011

deaths_crude_lung.swf

Download this chart XLS (59KB) PPT (139KB) PDF (310KB)

section reviewed 03/01/14
section updated 03/01/14

 

Trends over time

Lung cancer mortality rates have decreased overall for males and increased overall for females in the UK since the early 1970s (Figure 2.2).1-3 For men, European AS mortality rates decreased by 55% between 1971-1973 and 2009-2011. For women, mortality rates increased by 63% between 1971-1973 and 2009-2011; however, most of this rise occurred between the early 1970s and late 1980s, with rates increasing by 60% between 1971-1973 and 1988-1990. Over the last decade (between 2000-2002 and 2009-2011), the European AS mortality rates have decreased by 18% in males and increased by 5% in females.

Figure 2.2: Lung Cancer (C33-C34), European Age-Standardised Mortality Rates, UK, 1971-2011

mort_asr_uk_lung.swf

Download this chart XLS (54KB) PPT (131KB) PDF (45KB)

The different patterns of lung cancer death rates in men and women reflect past smoking behaviour: smoking prevalence peaked earlier in men than women in Great Britain, and accordingly the highest lung cancer mortality ratios are observed in men born around the turn of the century and in women born in the 1920s (Figure 2.3).8

Figure 2.3: Lung Cancer (C33-C34), Birth Cohort Mortality, Ages 35-84, England and Wales

mort_birthcohort_lung.swf

Download this chart XLS (55KB) PPT (143KB) PDF (34KB)

The importance of lung cancer as a cause of death has grown throughout most of of the twentieth century. In the early 1900s, lung cancer was a rare disease causing around one death annually in every 100,000 people.5 By 1950, the lung cancer mortality rate had risen six-fold in men and three-fold in women, prompting the first epidemiological study that linked tobacco smoking and lung cancer in Great Britain.5

Since the 1950s, lung cancer mortality rates have increased, peaked and then decreased for all male age groups and some female age groups in England and Wales (Figures 2.4 and 2.5).1-3,9

In men, rates have increased overall since the 1950s for the older age groups, and decreased overall since the 1950s for the younger age groups. Rates peaked first in the younger age groups in the 1950s and 1960s, and peaked last in men aged 85+ in the late 1980s. The largest increase in rates was for men aged 85+ between the early 1950s and the mid-1980s, with European AS mortality rates increasing between 11-fold and 15-fold, whilst the largest decrease was in men aged 45-54 between the early 1950s and 2011, with European AS mortality rates dropping by around three-quarters during the time period. 

Figure 2.4: Lung Cancer (C33-C34), European Age-Standardised Mortality Rates, Males, By Age, England and Wales, 1950-2011

mort_asr_age_ew_m_lung.swf

Download this chart XLS (71KB) PPT (143KB) PDF (34KB)

In women, rates have increased overall since the 1950s for all age groups. Rates rose for all age groups from the early 1970s before beginning to fall in the younger age groups; dropping from the mid-1970s for women aged 45-54 and the late 1980s for women in the 55-64 age group. In the 65-74 age group, rates began to fall in the early 1990s, but have increased again since the mid-2000s. However, rates in women in the 75-84 and 85+ age groups continued to rise during the 1990s and into this century, with some indication recently of a downward trend for those aged 75-84 (Figure 2.5).1-3,9 The largest increase in mortality rates has been in women aged 85+, with European AS mortality rates increasing between 9- and 11-fold between the early 1950s and 2011.

Figure 2.5: Lung Cancer (C33-C34), European Age-Standardised Mortality Rates, Females, By Age, England and Wales, 1950-2011

mort_asr_age_ew_f_lung.swf

Download this chart XLS (69KB) PPT (143KB) PDF (34KB)

section reviewed 03/01/14
section updated 03/01/14

 

In Europe and worldwide

Worldwide cancer mortality data are collated and distributed by the World Health Organisation.17 As with the collation of incidence data, there is wide variation in the coverage of death registration systems across the world, with two-thirds of the world's populations living in regions that are not covered by mortality statistics, as well as variation in the quality of the cause of death information itself.18 The International Agency for Research on Cancer routinely uses the available data to estimate worldwide cancer mortality.10

Lung cancer is the most common cause of cancer death worldwide, estimated to be responsible for around 1.38 million cancer deaths in 2008 (18% of the total). Lung cancer mortality rates are lowest in Middle Africa for both sexes and highest in Central and Eastern Europe for men and Northern America for women, with an almost 19-fold and 30-fold variation in World AS mortality rates in males and females, respectively, between the regions of the world (Figure 2.6).10

Figure 2.6: Lung Cancer (C33-C34), World Age-Standardised Mortality Rates, World Regions, 2008 Estimates

world_mort_lung.swf

Download this chart XLS (65KB) PPT (142KB) PDF (73KB)

Within the 27 countries of the European Union (EU-27), the highest lung cancer European AS mortality rates are estimated to be in Hungary for males (around 107 deaths per 100,000) and Denmark for females (around 45 deaths per 100,000). The lowest rates are in Sweden for males (around 30 deaths per 100,000), and Latvia for females (around 8 deaths per 100,000) (Figure 2.7).11

The variation across Europe reflects differing histories of tobacco consumption.19,20 In countries where the tobacco-related lung cancer epidemic started earlier (such as in the UK, Sweden and Finland), lung cancer mortality rates in males have been declining since the 1970s; conversely, in countries where smoking rates peaked later (such as those in Central and Eastern Europe), lung cancer mortality rates in males also started decreasing later.20 In females, lung cancer mortality rates have continued to increase in most European countries, although the rate of increase has slowed down or even stabilised in some countries (such as in the UK, Iceland and Ireland).20,21

In 1975, the lung cancer mortality rate in the UK was the highest of the EU member states, but the ranking has fallen considerably since then, reflecting the decline in lung cancer rates among males in the UK.12 UK lung cancer mortality rates are estimated to be the 8th lowest for males, and 4th highest for females in Europe (EU-27).11

Figure 2.7: Lung Cancer (C33-C34), European Age-Standardised Mortality Rates, EU-27 Countries, 2008 Estimates

EU27_mort_lung.swf

Download this chart XLS (62KB) PPT (139KB) PDF (89KB)

section reviewed 03/01/14
section updated 13/04/12

 

Socio-economic variation

Lung cancer mortality is strongly related to deprivation and there is a clear trend of increasing rates with increasing levels of deprivation. European AS mortality rates are almost three times higher for both men and women living in the most deprived areas of England and Wales as compared with the least deprived.13,14 A similar association with deprivation has been reported in Scotland and Northern Ireland.15,16 This association reflects the higher incidence of lung cancer in the most deprived areas. 

section reviewed 13/04/12
section updated 13/04/12

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References for lung cancer mortality

  1. Data were provided by the Office for National Statistics on request, March 2013. Similar data can be found here: http://www.ons.gov.uk/ons/publications/all-releases.html?definition=tcm%3A77-27475.
  2. Data are provided by ISD Scotland on request, November 2012. Similar data can be found here: http://gro-scotland.gov.uk/statistics/theme/vital-events/general/ref-tables/index.html.
  3. Data are provided annually by the Northern Ireland Cancer Registry on request, May 2013. Similar data can be found here: http://www.nisra.gov.uk/demography/default.asp22.htm.
  4. NCIN, UK. Cancer e-atlas.  European Age-Standardised Mortality Rates, UK (England: former Primary Care Trusts; Wales; Scotland: NHS Health Boards; Northern Ireland: Health and Social Care Trusts), 2009-2011.
  5. Doll R and Hill AB. Smoking and carcinoma of the lung. Preliminary report. British Medical Journal 1950:739-48.
  6. Wald N and Nicolaides-Bouman A. UK Smoking Statistics. 1991: OUP
  7. Office for National Statistics. General Lifestyle Survey overview: A report on the 2010 general lifestyle survey. 2012.
  8. Swerdlow AJ, dos Santos Silva I, and Doll R. Cancer Incidence and Mortality in England Wales: trends and risk factors. 2001: Oxford University Press
  9. Quinn M, Babb P, Brock A et al. Cancer Trends in England Wales 1950-1999. Vol. SMPS No. 66. 2001: TSO.
  10. Ferlay J, Shin HR, Bray F, Forman D, Mathers C, Parkin DM. GLOBOCAN 2008 v1.2, Cancer Incidence and Mortality Worldwide: IARC CancerBase No. 10 [Internet]. Lyon, France: International Agency for Research on Cancer; 2010. Available from: http://globocan.iarc.fr.  Accessed May 2011.
  11. European Age-Standardised rates calculated by the Statistical Information Team at Cancer Research UK, 2011 using data from GLOBOCAN 2008 v1.2, IARC, version 1.2.
  12. Bray F, Tyczynski JE, Parkin DM. Going up or coming down? The changing phases of the lung cancer epidemic from 1967 to 1999 in the 15 European Union countries. Eur J Cancer 2004. 40(1):96-125.
  13. Romeri E, Baker A and Griffiths C. Mortality by deprivation and cause of death in England and Wales, 1999-2003 National Statistics. Health Statistics Quarterly Winter 2006.
  14. National Cancer Intelligence Network (NCIN) Cancer incidence by Deprivation. England, 1995-2004. London: NCIN; 2008
  15. ISD Scotland. Cancer Statistics. Cancer of the trachea, bronchus and lung. Accessed August 2013.
  16. Fitzpatrick D, Gavin A, Middleton R, Catney D. Cancer in Northern Ireland 1993-2001: A comprehensive Report (227KB). Northern Ireland Cancer Registry, Belfast; 2004.
  17. World Health Organisation. Global Health Observatory Data Repository. Accessed August 2013.
  18. Ferlay J, Shin HR, Bray F, Forman D, Mathers C, Parkin DM. Estimates of worldwide burden of cancer in 2008: GLOBOCAN 2008. Int J Cancer 2010;127:2893-917
  19. Malvezzi M, Bosetti C, Rosso T, et al. Lung cancer mortality in European men: trends and predictions. Lung Cancer 2013;80(2):138-45.
  20. Bosetti C, Malvezzi M, Rosso T, et al. Lung cancer mortality in European women: trends and predictions. Lung Cancer 2012;78(3):171-8.
Updated: 3 January 2014