Background: Smoking habits do not seem to be the main explanation of the epidemiological characteristics of female lung cancer mortality in Asian countries. However, Asian countries are often excluded from studies of geographical differences in trends for lung cancer mortality. We thus examined lung cancer trends from 1971 to 1995 among men and women for 23 countries, including four in Asia.
Methods: International and national data were used to analyze lung cancer mortality from 1971 to 1995 in both sexes. Age-standardized mortality rates (ASMR) were analyzed in five consecutive five-year periods and for each five-year age group in the age range 30 to 79. The age-period-cohort (APC) model was used to estimate the period effect (adjusted for age and cohort effects) for mortality from lung cancer.
Results: The sex ratio of the ASMR for lung cancer was lower in Asian countries, while the sex ratio of smoking prevalence was higher in Asian countries. The mean values of the sex ratio of the ASMR from lung cancer in Taiwan, Hong Kong, Singapore, and Japan for the five 5-year period were 2.10, 2.39, 3.07, and 3.55, respectively. These values not only remained quite constant over each five-year period, but were also lower than seen in the western countries. The period effect, for lung cancer mortality as derived for the 23 countries from the APC model, could be classified into seven patterns.
Conclusion: Period effects for both men and women in 23 countries, as derived using the APC model, could be classified into seven patterns. Four Asian countries have a relatively low sex ratio in lung cancer mortality and a relatively high sex ratio in smoking prevalence. Factors other than smoking might be important, especially for women in Asian countries.