I’ve been doing some research into lung cancer. I’ve learnt a lot! It’s too much information for one post, so I will split it up into several different groups. This post is about lung cancer in men. I will write a separate post about lung cancer in women and another on lung cancer in people who have never smoked (“never smokers”), so watch this space…
Lung cancer in men, 90 % of cases are linked to smoking. (I will write a separate article about lung cancer in people who don’t smoke). So, if you were to ask 100 men with lung cancer, what caused their cancer for 90/100 of them it would be caused by smoking. That means, that 10/100 cases of lung cancer in men are not directly related to smoking.
In the picture below, green men show cases of lung cancer caused by smoking and purple men show cases of lung cancer caused by something other than smoking.
In the lung cancer statistics Scotland does not come out well. Scotland has one of the highest rates of lung cancer in the world, in Scotland 27 % of the population smoke. In England 24 % of the population smoke. Click here to see a map of smoking rates in Scotland.
Smoking causes cancer. As a rule more poor people smoke, so lung cancer rates are highest in the most deprived areas and among the lowest social classes. In Scotland, in 2005 about 4,500 people were diagnosed with lung cancer, about 2000 of those people were men. [Data from Cancer Research UK]
What about the local statistics? the most up to date data I could find was from IDS Scotland and in 2002 about 100 men in Aberdeen City and 70 men in Aberdeenshire were diagnosed with lung cancer.
About 1-2% of cancer deaths (one of those purple people in the picture above) may be caused by radon gas, radon is a natural form of radioactivity that leaks out of rocks and soil. Some areas of Southern Aberdeenshire have relatively high levels of radon. It’s not a problem outside in the open air, but can build up inside houses. There is a map of radon levels in the UK on the Defra website.
There is more information on testing for radon in your home on the Shelter website. You can order a radon detection kit from the Health Protection Agency website, it costs £42. The HPA website also has more information on radiation and radon detection.
According to Cancer Research UK, most people who die of radon induced lung cancer would not have developed the disease if they did not smoke, you can read more in this 2004 article here. So the anti-smoking message still stands.
For more information on lung cancer, look at the Macmillan Backup website, they have a lung cancer information centre. There is also information on lung cancer on the Cancer Research UK website. The Roy Castle Lung Cancer Foundation are the only UK research charity that fund research solely on lung cancer. The British Lung foundation, have an introduction to lung cancer and a short list of medical words and what they mean
So, in summary, don’t smoke. A man who never smokes has a 1% risk of developing lung cancer. A man who smokes has a 22% chance of developing lung cancer (before the age of 85 years) [Data from Cancer Research UK]. If you do smoke, stop now, it can make a difference. See quit.org and gosmokefree.nhs.uk for more information, help and support.