Idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis (IPF) is a chronic disease where scar tissues develop in the lungs. IPF causes the lungs to harden, thicken and lose their ability to efficiently take up oxygen. This disease most frequently occurs in older adults and the outcome is poor, often resulting in death within a few years of the disease developing. While this is a rare disease, a review of the current literature has shown that the prevalence of IPF is significantly more common than previously reported in the UK.

IPF incidence, UK

A study published in 2011 by Navaratnam and colleagues on IPF incidence in the UK for 2000–2009 reported rates around 7–10 cases per 100,000 population. GlobalData estimated that this corresponded to around 5,000–6,000 new cases of IPF in the UK each year in the Epidemiology Report Idiopathic Pulmonary Fibrosis – Epidemiology Forecast to 2025.

New data reported by the British Lung Federation showed incidence has increased in recent years, to more than 12 cases per 100,000 population in 2010–2012. Based on the new rates, GlobalData estimates incident cases in the UK increased to 7,500 in 2012 and will continue to increase up to 8,000 by 2028.

The graph below presents the estimated increase in IPF cases to 2028 in the UK. Prevalent cases of IPF also increased in the UK, where new data are showing more than 30,000 people were living with IPF in 2012. This is significantly higher than GlobalData’s estimate of 11,000 people based on data available in 2015.

It is difficult to determine the cause of the increase in IPF cases.

Epidemiology for diagnosed IPF cases is difficult to study due to a range of possible codings that can be used clinically and due to changing standards of coding practices in recent years. The increase could be due to better diagnosis, better coding, or a true increase in IPF burden. More studies are needed to understand the epidemiological trends of this fatal disease.

IPF incident cases in the UK, trend 2005–2028

Source: GlobalData