According to a study by UIC Barcelona, lung cancer will overtake breast cancer in women by 2020

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According to a study led by researchers from the Universitat Internacional de Catalunya (UIC Barcelona), in which researchers from the Catalan Institute of Oncology and the University of Oporto also took part, deaths from lung cancer will overtake breast cancer in Spanish women aged between 55 and 74 by 2020. The reasons behind the drop in mortality rates for breast cancer are mainly due to improvements in treatment and mass screening (an annual decline in the death rate of 1.8% was noted between 1997 and 2006) and the start of a massive rise in tobacco consumption (the main risk factor for this kind of tumour) amongst Spanish women which started in the 1970s. Dr José María Martínez-Sánchez, lead researcher of the study, noted that “deaths from lung cancer will continue to increase, as will the healthcare costs associated with this disease if we do not act to reduce tobacco consumption amongst women”. 

Researchers taking part in the study suggest, amongst other measures, taking advantage of the infrastructure and cover in place for screening for breast, colon and cervical cancer to include initiatives that help to reduce the number of women smokers. Mass screening for breast cancer covers the entire country, attracts a high level of participation and matches the age range in which the death rate is predicted to increase over coming years. The screening may come at an appropriate moment to encourage kicking the smoking habit. “In spite of women being very aware of the risk of breast cancer, many of them taking part in screening for these tumours are also at risk of lung cancer if they continue smoking", said Martínez-Sánchez.