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Worldwide cancer Key Stats

Worldwide-graphicKey messages on incidence, mortality, risk factors (causes) and a summary table of the statistics for cancer worldwide are given here.

More comprehensive information and statistics for cancer worldwide is here: incidence and mortality.

The latest statistics available for all cancers worldwide are; incidence 2012 (estimated) and mortality 2012 (estimated). Source years are specified in the statistics table. Find out why these are the latest statistics available.


About cancer worldwide

Cancer incidence and mortality statistics for cancer worldwide are taken from the International Agency for Research on Cancer GLOBOCAN database and also the World Health Organisation Global Health Observatory and the United Nations World Population Prospects report.

Find out more about the coding and counting of this data.

section reviewed 14/02/14
section updated 14/02/14


How many people die from cancer?

Read more in-depth worldwide cancer mortality statistics.

section reviewed 14/02/14
section updated 14/02/14

What causes cancer?

  • A person’s risk of developing cancer depends on many factors, including age, genetics, and exposure to risk factors (including some potentially avoidable lifestyle factors).
  • Cancer risk factors are overall similar worldwide. Smoking, insufficient physical activity, alcohol, diet, overweight and obesity, and infections account for a high proportion of cancers worldwide, as they do in the UK.
  • Prevalence of different risk factors varies by region and country, this is partly why overall cancer incidence rates, and the most common types of cancer, also vary by region and country.
  • Smoking is the single most preventable cause of death in the world, and around a third of tobacco-caused deaths are due to cancer (2015 projected). Most of the world’s smokers live in low- or middle-income countries.
  • Alcohol drinking causes an estimated 6% of deaths worldwide, around 1 in 8 of which are due to cancer (2012). Alcohol drinking prevalence is highest in Europe and America.
  • Unhealthy diets, e.g. low in fruit and vegetables and high in salt, are becoming more common in lower-resource countries.
  • Overweight and obesity are leading causes of death worldwide. Overweight and obesity prevalence is increasing particularly in low- and middle-income countries.
  • Infections cause 18% of the global cancer burden, with a much higher proportion in low-income countries.

Find out more about causes of cancer worldwide (World Health Organization Global status report on noncommunicable diseases 2010).

Read more in-depth statistics on the causes of cancer in the UK

section reviewed 27/01/15
section updated 27/01/15


Cancer worldwide statistics table

CANCER WORLDWIDE STATISTICS Males Females Persons Country Year2
Number of new cases per year 7,427,148 6,663,001 14,090,149 Worldwide 2012
Incidence rate per 100,000 population1 205.4 165.3 182.3
Number of deaths per year 4,653,132 3,547,898 8,201,030 Worldwide 2012
Mortality rate per 100,000 population1 126.3 82.9 102.4

1. World age-standardised    2. Latest estimates available

More detailed worldwide cancer statistics can be found using these links: incidence, mortality and risk factors.

section reviewed 14/02/14
section updated 14/02/14

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Question about cancer? Contact our information nurse team
Updated: 27 January 2015