Lung Cancer Kills More Women Than Breast Cancer In Developed World

For the first time, lung cancer has passed breast cancer as the leading cause of cancer deaths for women in rich countries.

The reason is smoking, which peaked years later for women than it did for men. Lung cancer has been the top cancer killer for men for decades.

“We’re seeing the deaths now” from lung cancer due to a rise in smoking by women three decades ago, said Lindsey Torre of the American Cancer Society. The society released a report Wednesday, based on new numbers from the International Agency for Research on Cancer.

Some highlights:


Globally, there were about 14 million new cancer cases and 8 million cancer deaths in 2012, the most recent year for which numbers are available.

“Developing countries account for 57 percent of cancer cases and 65 percent of cancer deaths,” Torre said.


For men, lung cancer has been the leading cause of cancer death globally for several decades. In poor countries, breast cancer remains the top cancer killer for women. Colon cancer has grown as a cause of death worldwide.

As for the number of cases diagnosed, prostate and breast are the most common cancers in men and women, respectively, in rich countries.

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