Between 1981 and 1995 the national cancer register in Israel received reports on 13,600 new cases of lung cancer. We evaluated the trends in total lung cancer and the histologic subtypes, in Jewish and Arab Israelis. During this period, the age-adjusted incidence of lung cancer increased in the male Arab population, while for male Jews there was a non-significant decrease, for women in both population groups the rates were stable. When analyzed by age group, there was a significant decrease in incidence rates in Jewish males aged 75 years and older. An analysis by histologic subtypes showed two different trends. In the Jewish population, the age adjusted incidence rates of squamous cell carcinoma (SQCC) decreased and the incidence rates of adenocarcinoma (AC) increased, whereas in the Arab population the incidence rates of both subtypes increased, although statistically significantly only for SQCC. The changes found in the Jewish population are similar to those found in other western countries, where the rates of AC are increasing and the rates of SQCC are decreasing. The trends in the Arab population in Israel are different. This may be due to different trends in the prevalence of smoking in the two populations.
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