Skip navigation |
[Viewing Options]

Poverty and postcode dictate chances of developing lung cancer

2 September 2011

A new report, released today (1st September 2011), by the leading health charity the British Lung Foundation (BLF) highlights that people living in the most deprived areas of the UK are nearly three times more likely to get lung cancer than those living in the most affluent areas.

The Lost Lives report, which maps the lung cancer epidemic across the UK, shows that within the UK, Scotland has the highest incidence rates of all countries and Glasgow, Liverpool and Tyneside are the worst areas.

This variation in lung cancer incidence is due to the higher rates of smoking in lower socio-economic groups living in deprived areas. The rate of smoking for both men and women have both dropped since the 1960s, however, smoking rates in people from deprived neighbourhoods are falling at a slower rate.

Richard Hubbard, GSK/British Lung Foundation Professor of Respiratory Epidemiology, who helped to write the report said:

“We need a concerted effort to reduce the numbers of smokers in the UK in all sectors of society. Only then will we see a decline in the rates of lung cancer, regardless of a person’s gender or postcode.”


Notes to Editor:

  • The most common cause of lung cancer is smoking. It has been found that 90 per cent of lung cancers develop in people who smoke. (1)
  • The most common symptoms of lung cancer are a persistent cough or change of cough in those people who already have chronic bronchitis, coughing up of blood, wheezing, chest infections and pneumonia. There may also be a pain in the chest or even in one shoulder which is reported in up to 40 per cent of cases. (2)
  • In 2008, in England and Wales, there were 30,326 deaths in which lung cancer was recorded as the cause of death. This represents 22 per cent of the total number of deaths due to malignant disease. (3)
  • The British Lung Foundation has recommended five improvement areas to help reduce the number of deaths caused by lung cancer each year.

 More to be done to lower smoking levels in the UK
 More awareness of the symptoms of lung cancer among GPs to help achieve early diagnosis
 More education to help people recognise the symptoms of lung cancer to help improve early diagnosis
 Work on and funding new methods of early diagnosis
 More research on developing new treatments for lung cancer

  • The BLF is holding lung cancer campaigns to help strategic health authorities and health boards diagnose lung cancer earlier through raising awareness.
  • The British Lung Foundation is fighting to help the eight million people in the UK with lung disease. The charity provides support and information to improve the every day lives of people with lung disease. We are also campaigning for better diagnosis, treatment and prevention for now and the future.
  • It provides information via the website and telephone helpline 08458 50 50 20
  • The report was drafted with the help of Richard Hubbard, BLF Chair. It was compiled using THIN analysis, provided by CSD Medical Research UK, Thames Registry data and Mosaic Public Sector data by Experian.

1) Lung Report III, British Lung Foundation, 2003.
2) Lung Report III, British Lung Foundation, 2003.
3) Office for National S. Mortality statistics: Deaths registered in 2008. DR, 2009.