LUNG cancer remains the biggest cause of death from cancer in Wales - and the highest rates can be found in Blaenau Gwent.

Figures released today by the Welsh Cancer Intelligence and Surveillance Unit (WCISU) of Public Health Wales, lays bare the impact of the disease in Wales, where more than one-in-five (22 per cent) deaths from cancer are due to lung cancer.

And though lung cancer has traditionally affected and killed more men, the pattern is shifting, with the number of cases in women increasing by more than one third in 10 years.

For the latest period measured - 2010-12 - Blaenau Gwent had the highest lung cancer death rate among both men and women, of Wales' 22 council areas, based on the European age-standardised rate per 100,000 population.

This was 58 for men and 47.3 for women per 100,000 in Blaenau Gwent, with the death rate for women there significantly higher than other parts of Wales.

Caerphilly county borough too had high lung cancer rates, the fourth highest in Wales for men and women.

With people living longer, each year there are more cases of cancer generally with more than 18,000 cases diagnosed Wales-wide in 2012, two-thirds in people aged 65 and over.

The WCISU report found cancer survival is improving overall, with more than 70 per cent of Welsh residents diagnosed with cancer expected to survive at least one year. But survival for many smoking-related cancers remains low compared to the best in Europe.

The report also examines the incidence of cancer according to deprivation levels of neighbourhoods, finding that cancer gets more common and survival rates worse, the more deprived an area gets. However, not all cancers follow this pattern, notably breast cancer, which is more common amongst more affluent women.

Blaenau Gwent had the highest death rate in Wales for all cancer among women during 2010-12, with Caerphilly the fourth highest, and Torfaen and Newport equal seventh highest, an indication of the toll of the disease in the wider Gwent area.

Among men, Torfaen had the highest death rate in Wales for the same period, with Blaenau Gwent the second highest, while the incidence of cancer among men in Torfaen was again the highest in Wales.

In 2012, prostate cancer had the highest incidence in men with 2,419 cases, followed by bowel (1,405), and lung (1,249). Breast cancer was the most common cancer in women with 2,362 cases, followed by lung (1,121), and bowel (1,039).