Cases of lung cancer in women have reached 20,000 a year in the UK for the first time, having increased from 14,200 a year around 20 years ago, Cancer Research UK has found.
The rise has been attributed to the later peak in women's smoking patterns, while for men the peak was in the 1940s, for women it was the 1970s.
Each year 16,000 women die from the disease, while 20,000 men die from lung cancer.
Cancer Research UK is currently researching ways to study the disease once it has spread and isolating and studying tumour cells carried in the blood.
The aim of the research is to develop blood tests to understand how the disease changes and how it changes and becomes resistant to drugs.
Professor Caroline Dive, a lead scientist on the project from the Cancer Research UK Manchester Institute, said: "It really is devastating to see that the number of women diagnosed with lung cancer continues to climb.
"We also know survival remains poor and one of the problems is that lung cancer tends to be diagnosed at a late stage when it has already spread.
"Cancer is very difficult to treat once it has spread around the body.
"It's very challenging to biopsy lung cancer and very hard for the patient too.
"The new technique we're testing uses magnets to capture rogue cancer cells in patients' blood and could be a more effective form of biopsy - providing vital information on the biology of the disease.
"And, ultimately, this could lead to better ways to treat patients."
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