TWO in every five people in Scotland will be diagnosed with cancer at some point in their lives, figures have revealed.

The number of people suffering the disease north of the Border has increased by 3% in the past decade.

Experts said people living longer and developing cancer in their old age was behind the rise, as well as a surge in women contracting lung cancer.

However, mortality rates from the illness have significantly improved, falling 12% in a decade.

Scottish Health Secretary Alex Neil said: "We are determined to do more to meet the challenge of rising cancer rates, including that posed by the ageing population."

The picture of cancer incidence was published by the statistics arm of the NHS in Scotland known as ISD.

In previous reports, dating back to 2009, ISD said one in three people could expect to be diagnosed with cancer. The new report increases the risk to two in five based on analysis of data up to the end of 2011. This is boosted by a 9% rise in age-standardised cancer rates among women since 2001. Rates are down 3% among men.

There has been a significant rise in the number of women developing lung cancer, according to the data, while the rate has fallen among men. In total, 5069 lung cancer cases were diagnosed in 2011, accounting for 17% of all cancers. Diagnoses for men decreased 14.3% and rose 19.9% for women.

Kidney and skin cancer have also become more common within 10 years. Skin cancer cases soared by more than 50%. The number of cases of kidney cancer was up 36%. This reflects a 51.2% rise among women.

Mr Neil said the Scottish Government was working to ensure more cancers were detected early.

Elspeth Atkinson, director of Macmillan in Scotland, said: "It's good news more people are surviving cancer. But this means there is more need than ever to support those who are living with the effects of the illness, which can last long after treatment ends."

Jackie Baillie, Scottish Labour health spokeswoman, praised the work of NHS staff in treating cancer.