BACKGROUND: Lung cancer incidence and prevalence is increasing worldwide and there is a focus on prevention, early detection, and development of new treatments which will impact the epidemiological patterns of lung cancer. The clinical characteristics and the trends in incidence, mortality, and prevalence of lung cancer in Denmark from 2006 through 2015 are described and a model for predicting the future epidemiological profile of lung cancer through 2030 is introduced.
METHODS: The study population comprised all cases of lung cancer, registered in the Danish Cancer Registry, who were alive on January 1, 2006 or had a first-time ever diagnosis of lung cancer during 2006 through 2015. Information on morphology, stage of the disease, comorbidity and survival was obtained from other Danish health registers. Based on NORDCAN data and estimated patient mortality rates as well as prevalence proportions for the period 2006 through 2015, future case numbers of annual incidence, deaths, and resulting prevalence were projected.
RESULTS: A total of 44.291 patients were included in the study. A shift towards more patients diagnosed with lower stages and with adenocarcinoma was observed. The incidence increased and the patient mortality rate decreased significantly, with a doubling of the prevalence during the observation period. We project that the numbers of prevalent cases of lung cancer in Denmark most likely will increase from about 10,000 at the end of 2015 to about 23,000 at the end of 2030.
CONCLUSIONS: Our findings support that lung cancer is being diagnosed at an earlier stage, that incidence will stop increasing, that mortality will decrease further, and that the prevalence will continue to increase substantially. Projections of cancer incidence, mortality, and prevalence are important for planning health services and should be updated at regular intervals.