The number of women in Wales being diagnosed with lung cancer is “rapidly increasing” and has seen a 35% rise in the last decade, according to a report.
It is now the second most common cancer for women in Wales – and third highest rate of the disease in 40 EU countries.
Doctors say the vast majority of cases are preventable, and have called for further controls on tobacco sales.
Figures published on Tuesday also show lung cancer in Welsh men has decreased by 3% over the same period.
“Lung cancer is the most common cancer worldwide and is the commonest cancer leading to death in the EU,” said Dr Dyfed Wyn Huws from the Welsh Cancer Intelligence and Surveillance Unit (WCISU) at Public Health Wales.
“Further effective tobacco control is still needed to bring our rates down to the levels of Sweden or Australia.”
While rates of lung cancer have slowly fallen for men – records between 2003 and 2012 show a dramatic rise in the disease for women in Wales.
The latest figures show 1,121 women were told they had the cancer in 2012 – up from 825 women in 2003.
Historically, the number of men with lung cancer has always been higher than those for women.
However, WCISU warns the rapid rise in cases among women means they are now almost equal.
The report says one of the reasons for the increase is down to how the smoking habit peaked at different times.
For men, the 1940s was the high point for using tobacco, but for women it was the late 1970s and 80s – with a three decade delay in the spike in cases.
The authors also warn of stark geographic differences across Wales in rates of the disease, for both men and women.
The incidence of lung cancer in the south Wales valleys council areas is higher than the Wales average, with the rate in Merthyr Tydfil a staggering 87% higher than in Monmouthshire.
The report clearly pinpoints deprivation as one of the keys to the rates of the disease, with a 27% higher incidence in the most deprived parts of Wales.