Lung cancer
More women now die from lung cancer than they do breast cancer (Flickr/ Creative Commons)

Lung cancer has become the biggest killer of women out of all forms of the disease, overtaking breast cancer by around 4,000 deaths.

According to Cancer Reasearch UK statistics, 15,449 women died from lung cancer in 2010. In comparison, 11,556 died from breast cancer.

The charity also found a worrying trend, in that the number of women expected to die from lung cancer will increase significantly over the next 20 years.

In 2010, 34,859 people died from lung cancer. This figure is expected to reach 44,986 by 2030 - 21,090 of which will be women.

Catherine Thomson, Cancer Research UK's head of statistical information, said: "Our figures on what the likely mortality rates and numbers of deaths will be in 2030 suggest that the numbers of lung cancers in women will continue to rise for the next couple of decades.

"Some of these deaths from lung cancer could be prevented by having better treatments, including people having surgery if they are fit enough and diagnosed early enough.

"But many of these lung cancer deaths could be avoided if women between 30 and 60 could be helped to stop smoking over the next few years."

Thomson also pointed out that the number of men dying from lung cancer has halved since the 1970s, and is predicted to drop by another fifth by 2030.

She continued: "It is essential that we try to stop another generation taking up smoking. The key to achieving this is to reduce the attractiveness of tobacco by removing the slickly designed, colourful packs.

"We urge the government to protect young people from tobacco marketing and respond to the public consultation - which is examining this issue - as soon as possible."

After lung and breast cancer, the biggest killers of women in the UK are cancers of the bowel, ovary and pancreas. These accounted for 7,308, 4,295 and 4,029 female deaths in 2010 respectively.