Lung cancer has overtaken breast cancer as the leading cause of cancer deaths of Australian women.
The rise reflects a surge in the number of women who started smoking in the 1960s and 70s.
Cancer specialists say they expect the lung cancer death rate will continue its upward trend for the next few years, but will eventually be overtaken by bowel and breast cancer because of increased obesity rates.
"When the smoking rate in women peaked, we're now seeing the lung cancers as a result of that," he said.
"In men, we're actually seeing the rate come down because the men's smoking rate peaked earlier than the women.
"There's a 20- or 30-year gap between when you've been smoking usually and when you may develop lung cancer, so as the women's smoking rates have been declining, we will eventually see this death rate from lung cancer declining.
"Although there are about 20 per cent of lung cancers in women not due to smoking."
Professor Olver says there are two main reasons why lung cancer cases in women were overtaking breast cancer cases.
"One is we're seeing an increase in death from lung cancer related to the increase in women's smoking rates two or three decades ago," he said.
"But we're also seeing a decrease in the death rate of breast cancer because of effective screening and treatments that have been developed recently."
Professor Olver added the trend has happened over the last two or three years and essentially, developed countries are all seeing the same thing.
"I think we'll see over the next decade a drop in this because we're already seeing a drop in the men's cancer death rate because their smoking rate peaked earlier than the women.
"So we'll expect the women's death rate to start dropping off over the next decade.
"I think obesity is going to drive things like breast cancer and actually bowel cancer, but then again, things like the development of a effective treatments and screening tests will counter that.
"So really, it's going to ultimately depend on those cancers where we find the screening test, where we can detect them earlier - particularly if we can detect a pre-cancerous stage - and of course if we get very effective treatments.
"That changes the balance between the cancers."