Lung cancer rates among women in the UK have risen by 73% since 1975, while falling by 47% among men. Cancer Research UK, which has released the figures, says the changes are because of contrasting trends in smoking habits in men and women.

The charity says the proportion of men who smoke has been declining since the 1950s, while figures for women did not start to drop until the 1970s.Overall, lung cancer rates across the UK have fallen by 20% since 1975.

The latest figures show there were around 43,500 cases of lung cancer in the UK in 2011 – approximately 23,800 men and 19,700 women.

In the same year there were around 35,200 deaths from lung cancer, including 19,600 men and 15,600 women.

Dr Harpal Kumar, chief executive of Cancer Research UK, said the figures provided a “stark reminder” that lung cancer remains a big challenge and called for a renewed effort to tackle the disease.  The new figures reveal that rates of lung cancer among women now stand at 41 women in every 100,000, up from 23 in every 100,000 in 1975.

For men, the lung cancer rate is now 59 in every 100,000, down from 112 per 100,000 people in 1975. The highest rates in England are found in the north, while the lowest rates are in the east, south-east and south-west.

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