Lung Cancer Mortality Rates Among Women Projected to Surpass Breast Cancer


Globally, lung cancer mortality rates among women are projected to increase by 43% from 2015 to 2030.

As breast cancer mortality rates decrease globally, a new study projects that lung cancer mortality rates among women worldwide will significantly increase.

Breast cancer survival rates have made great strides in recent years, likely due to increased access to screening and more effective therapies. However, as tobacco use becomes more prevalent among women worldwide, lung cancer mortality rates are on the rise.

In an analysis of data from 52 countries published in Cancer Research, the study authors examined breast and female lung cancer mortality data from the World Health Organization Mortality Database from 2008 to 2014. To be included in the study, countries must have had reported data for at least 4 years between 2008 and 2014 and must have a population greater than 1 million.

Globally, the researchers projected that the age-standardized breast cancer mortality rate will decrease by 9% from 2015 to 2030, while the age-standardized lung cancer mortality rate is expected to jump 43% in the same time frame.

Based on the analysis, the highest lung cancer mortality rates in 2030 are projected in Europe and Oceania, whereas the lowest lung cancer mortality rates in 2030 are projected in America and Asia. The only decrease in lung cancer mortality is predicted in Oceania, where rates are expected to fall from 17.8 to 17.6.

“Different timelines have been observed in the tobacco epidemic across the globe,” Jose M. Martinez-Sanchez, PhD, MPH, BSc, associate professor and director of the Department of Public Health, Epidemiology, and Biostatistics at Universitat Internacional de Catalunya, said in a press release. “This is because it was socially acceptable for women to smoke in the European and Oceanic countries included in our study many years before this habit was commonplace in America and Asia, which reflects why we are seeing high lung cancer mortality rates in these countries.”

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On the other hand, breast cancer mortality rates are projected to decrease from 16.1 in 2015 to 14.7 in 2030. The highest mortality rate for breast cancer is predicted in Europe with a decreased trend, while the lowest mortality rate is predicted in Asia with an increasing trend.

Additionally, high-income countries have the highest projected age-standardized mortality rates for both lung and breast cancer in 2030, but are more likely to see decreasing breast cancer mortality rates, the researchers wrote. Because of this, lung cancer mortality in these countries are expected to surpass breast cancer mortality before 2030, according to the study.

“This research is particularly important because it provides evidence for health professionals and policymakers to decide on global strategies to reduce the social, economic, and health impacts of lung cancer among women in the future,” Dr Martinez-Sanchez concluded.


Martin-Sanchez JC, Lunet N, Gonzalez-Marron A, et al. Projections in breast and lung cancer mortality among women: A Bayesian analysis of 52 countries worldwide. Cancer Research. 2018. Doi: 10.1158/0008-5472.CAN-18-0187.

Lung Cancer Mortality Rates Among Women Projected to Increase Worldwide By Over 40 Percent By 2030 [news release]. American Association for Cancer Research’s website. Accessed August 1, 2018.

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