Cancer Research UK on Google+ Cancer Research UK on Facebook Cancer Research UK on Twitter

Prostate cancer incidence statistics

Incidence statistics for prostate cancer by country in the UK, age and trends over time are presented here. There are also data on lifetime risk, geography, socio-economic variation and prevalence. The ICD code for prostate cancer is ICD-10 C61.

The latest incidence statistics available for prostate cancer in the UK are 2010. Find out why these are the latest statistics available.


By country in the UK

Among males prostate cancer is the most common cancer in the UK (2010), accounting for 25% of all new cases of cancer in males.1-4  In 1990, both lung and bowel cancers were more common in males than prostate cancer, but in 1998 prostate cancer became the most common cancer in UK males.

In 2010, there were 40,975 new cases of prostate cancer in males in the UK (Table 1.1).1-4 The crude incidence rate shows that there are 133.7 new prostate cancer cases for every 100,000 males in the UK.

The European age-standardised incidence rate (AS rate) is significantly higher in Wales, and significantly lower in Scotland, compared with the other constituent countries of the UK (Table 1.1).1-4

Table 1:1: Prostate Cancer (C61), Number of New Cases, Crude and European Age-Standardised (AS) Incidence Rates per 100,000 Population, Males, UK, 2010

England Wales Scotland Northern Ireland United Kingdom
Cases 34,892 2,462 2,679 942 40,975
Crude Rate 135.5 167.4 105.9 106.5 133.7
AS Rate 106.4 114.0 82.1 96.5 104.5
AS Rate - 95% LCL* 105.3 109.5 79.0 90.4 103.5
AS Rate - 95% UCL* 107.5 118.5 85.2 102.7 105.5

Download this table XLS (33KB) PPT (146KB) PDF (28KB)

*95% LCL and 95% UCL are the 95% lower and upper confidence limits around the AS rate

There was little geographical variation in prostate cancer incidence within England in the 1990s, with slightly lower rates in northern England, and slightly higher rates in London and southern England.5 The latest analysis of prostate cancer incidence rates throughout the UK shows that in England, rates are now highest in the south-west and parts of London; in Scotland, rates are highest in the south-east; and in Wales there is little variation between regions.6,7

section reviewed 22/01/13
section updated 22/01/13


By age

Prostate cancer incidence is strongly related to age, with the highest incidence rates being in older men. In the UK between 2008 and 2010, an average of 75% of cases were diagnosed in men aged 65 years and over, and only 1% were diagnosed in the under-50s (Figure 1.1).1-4 Age-specific incidence rates rise sharply from around age 50-54, reaching an overall peak in the 75-79 age group. For men aged 55-59 the incidence rate is 163 per 100,000 men; ten years later, at age 65-69, the rate more than triples to 551 per 100,000, and by 75-79 the rate is almost five times higher at 794 per 100,000. The slight drop in incidence rates in the oldest age groups may reflect less use of prostate specific antigen (PSA) testing in men over 80.8 The age distribution of prostate cancer cases has changed over time: in 1975-1984, 86% of cases were diagnosed in men aged 65 and over, compared with 75% in 2008-2010. This is probably largely due to the incidental discovery of early stage prostate cancers following transurethral resection of the prostate (TURP) and, more recently, the use of prostate specific antigen (PSA) testing.12

Figure 1.1: Prostate Cancer (C61), Average Number of New Cases per Year and Age-Specific Incidence Rates, Males, UK, 2008-2010


Download this chart XLS (57KB) PPT (135KB) PDF (50KB)

section reviewed 22/01/13
section updated 22/01/13


Trends over time

Substantial increases in incidence have been reported in recent years for many countries around the world, including the UK.9,10 Much of the increase in incidence both in the UK and in many other countries worldwide can be attributed to incidental detection of prostate cancers following TURP and PSA testing.10,11

Prostate cancer incidence rates have increased overall in Great Britain since the mid-1970s (Figure 1.2).1-3 European AS incidence rates increased more than threefold (218% increase) between 1975-1977 and 2008-2010. This overall rise comprises periods of particularly rapid increase during the early 1990s (44% increase between 1989-1991 and 1994-1996) and early 2000s (34% increase between 1997-1999 and 2002-2004); these periods correspond with the introduction of PSA testing from the late 1980s,12-14 and with increasing rates of PSA testing around the late 1990s.15,16 Recruitment to the CAP arm of the ProtecT trial in the early 2000s, in which men aged 50-69 were randomised to receive PSA testing in primary care, may also have contributed to the increase.17

Figure 1.2: Prostate Cancer (C61), European Age-Standardised Incidence Rates, Males, Great Britain, 1975-2010


Download this chart XLS (49KB) PPT (127KB) PDF (40KB)

Prostate cancer incidence trends for the UK are shown in Figure 1.3.1-4 Over the last decade (between 1999-2001 and 2008-2010), the European AS incidence rates have increased by 22%.

Figure 1.3: Prostate Cancer (C61), European Age-Standardised Incidence Rates, Males, UK, 1993-2010


Download this chart XLS (46KB) PPT (126KB) PDF (36KB)

Prostate cancer incidence rates have increased overall for all of the broad age groups in Great Britain since the mid-1970s (Figure 1.4).1-3 The largest increase has been in men aged between 45 and 54, with European AS incidence rates increasing around eight-and-a-half-fold (744%) between 1975-1977 and 2008-2010. The rapid increase during the early 1990s (thought to be largely attributable to the introduction of PSA testing) was most pronounced for the 45-54 and 55-64 age groups, with a 68% increase between 1989-1991 and 1994-1996 in both groups, although these are based on relatively small numbers. Rates have continued to rise for the younger age groups and males aged 65-74, but for men aged 75-84 and 85+, rates have decreased since the early 2000s, dropping by 6% and 24% respectively between 2002-2004 and 2008-2010. This may be due to diagnosis of early prostate cancers in younger men through PSA testing, leaving increasingly fewer cases which have not yet been diagnosed by the time men reach their 70s and 80s.10

Figure 1.4: Prostate Cancer (C61), European Age-Standardised Incidence Rates, by Age, Males, Great Britain, 1975-2010


Download this chart XLS (62KB) PPT (137KB) PDF (68KB)

Analyses of prostate cancer incidence trends in Scotland, the US, Australia, Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland indicate that increased detection through TURP and PSA testing is implicated in the apparent increases in incidence in those countries.18-22

It is estimated that 75% of US men aged 50 years and older have had a PSA test.23 In Europe, the level of population screening is much lower, with published estimates of 10-20%.10

section reviewed 22/01/13
section updated 22/01/13

Lifetime risk

Lifetime risk is an estimation of the risk that a newborn child has of being diagnosed with cancer at some point during their life. It is a summary of risk in the population but genetic and lifestyle factors affect the risk of cancer and so the risk for every individual is different.

In 2010, in the UK, the lifetime risk of developing prostate cancer is 1 in 8.24

The lifetime risk for prostate cancer has been calculated by the Statistical Information Team using the ‘Current Probability’ method; this is a different method used from most other cancer sites since the possibility of having more than one diagnosis of prostate cancer over the course of their lifetime is very low.35

section reviewed 25/04/13
section updated 25/04/13


In Europe and worldwide

Although cancer registration has a long history in many countries of the world, particularly in the more affluent regions such as the UK, nearly 80% of the world’s populations live in regions that are not covered by such systems.25 Nonetheless, with a view to characterising the global burden of the disease, the International Agency for Research on Cancer routinely uses the available data to estimate worldwide cancer incidence.26

Prostate cancer is the 2nd most common cancer worldwide for males, and the 5th most common cancer overall, with an estimated 900,000 new cases diagnosed in 2008 (14% of the total in males and 7% of the total overall). Prostate cancer incidence rates are highest in Australia/New Zealand and lowest in south-central Asia, with around 25-fold variation in World AS incidence rates between the regions of the world (Figure 1.5).26

Figure 1.5: Prostate Cancer (C61), World Age-Standardised Incidence Rates, Males, World Regions, 2008 Estimates


Download this chart XLS (63KB) PPT (143KB) PDF (62KB)

Incidence rates are highest in regions where prostate cancer screening and PSA testing is common.26 The risk of developing prostate cancer is high in black Caribbean and black African men and low in Asian populations, suggesting important genetic determinants of risk also exist.27,28

Within the 27 countries of the European Union, the highest prostate cancer European AS incidence rates for 2008 are estimated to be in Ireland (around 183 cases per 100,000) and the lowest rates are estimated to be in Greece (around 28 cases per 100,000) (Figure 1.6).29

Figure 1.6: Prostate Cancer (C61), European Age-Standardised Incidence Rates, Males, EU-27 Countries, 2008 Estimates


Download this chart XLS (60KB) PPT (140KB) PDF (75KB)

UK prostate cancer incidence rates are estimated to be the 14th highest in Europe (EU-27).29

section reviewed 01/05/12
section updated 01/05/12


By socio-economic variation

Prostate cancer incidence is strongly inversely related to deprivation; it is one of the few cancers where incidence rates are lower for more deprived men and there is a clear trend of decreasing rates with increasing levels of deprivation.30 The most recent England-wide data for 2000-2004 shows European AS incidence rates are around 24% lower for men living in the most deprived areas compared with the least deprived.30 It has been estimated that there would have been an additional 3,100 new prostate cancer cases each year in England during 2000-2004 if all men had experienced the same rates as the most affluent.30 A study in Scotland for 2006-2010 showed that the gap in prostate cancer incidence by deprivation is similar, with the most deprived men having around 22% lower rates, compared with the least deprived.31 Similar associations with deprivation have also been reported in Wales and Northern Ireland.32,33 These results are not unexpected, as rates of PSA testing are generally higher in more affluent populations.8

section reviewed 01/05/12
section updated 01/05/12



Prevalence refers to the number of people who have previously received a diagnosis of cancer and who are still alive at a given time point. Some patients will have been cured of their disease and others will not. The latest estimates for the UK (Table 1.2) show that around 181,000 men were still alive at the end of 2006, up to ten years after being diagnosed with prostate cancer.34 Worldwide, it is estimated that there were 3.2 million prostate cancer patients still alive in 2008, up to five years after their diagnosis.26

Table 1.2: Prostate Cancer (C61) Prevalence in the UK, at 31st December 2006

1 Year Prevalence 5 Year Prevalence 10 Year Prevalence
Male 31,452 127,630 181,463

Download this table XLS (30KB) PPT (120KB) PDF (17KB)

section reviewed 01/05/12
section updated 01/05/12

No Error

Rate this page:
Submit rating
Rated 3 out of 5 based on 2 votes
Rate this page
Rate this page for no comments box
Please enter feedback to continue submitting
Send feedback
Question about cancer? Contact our information nurse team

Visit our A-Z topic pages


References for prostate cancer incidence

  1. Data were provided by the Office for National Statistics on request, June 2012. Similar data can be found here:
  2. Data were provided by ISD Scotland on request, April 2012. Similar data can be found here:
  3. Data were provided by the Welsh Cancer Intelligence and Surveillance Unit on request, April 2012. Similar data can be found here:
  4. Data were provided by the Northern Ireland Cancer Registry on request, October 2012. Similar data can be found here:
  5. Quinn M, Wood H, Cooper N, Rowan S, eds. Cancer Atlas of the United Kingdom and Ireland 1991–2000. Studies on Medical and Population Subjects No. 68. London: ONS; 2005.
  6. NCIN. Cancer Incidence and Mortality by Cancer Network, UK, 2005. London: NCIN; 2008.
  7. NCIN. Cancer e-Atlas. Accessed January 2013.
  8. Williams N, Hughes LJ, Turner EL, et al. Prostate-specific antigen testing rates remain low in UK general practice: a cross-sectional study in six English cities. BJU Int 2011;108(9):1402-8.
  9. Hsing AW, Tsao L, Devesa SS. International Trends and Patterns of Prostate Cancer Incidence and Mortality. International Journal of Cancer (Pred.Oncol) 2000; 85:60-67.
  10. Bray F, Lortet-Tieulent J, Ferlay J, et al. Prostate cancer incidence and mortality trends in 37 European countries: an overview. Eur J Cancer 2010; 46:3040-52.
  11. Quinn M, Babb P. Patterns and trends in prostate cancer incidence, survival, prevalence and mortality. Part I: international comparison. BJU Int 2002; 90:162-73.
  12. Brewster D, Fraser L, Harris V. Rising incidence of prostate cancer in Scotland: increased risk or increased detection? BJU International 2000; 85: 463-473.
  13. Pashayan N, Powles J, Brown C, et al. Incidence trends of prostate cancer in East Anglia, before and during the era of PSA diagnostic testing. Br J Cancer 2006;95(3):398-400.
  14. UK National Screening Committee. Screening for Prostate Cancer. Review against programme appraisal criteria for the UK National Screening Committee (UK NSC). London: UKNSC; 2010.
  15. Melia J, Moss S. Survey of the rate of PSA testing in general practice. Br J Cancer 2001;85(5):656-7.
  16. Melia J, Coulson P, Johns L, et al. Report to the Department of Health. Study to assess the rate of PSA testing in men with no previous diagnosis of prostate cancer (Mapping of PSA testing: Part II). 2003.
  17. Lane JA, Hamdy FC, Martin RM, et al. Latest results from the UK trials evaluating prostate cancer screening and treatment: the CAP and ProtecT studies. Eur J Cancer 2010;46(17):3095-101.
  18. Potosky A, Kessler L, Gridley G, et al. Rise in Prostatic Cancer Incidence Associated with Increased Use of Transurethral Resection JNCI 1990; 82: 1624-1627.
  19. Potosky A, Miller BA, Albertsen PC, et al. The Role of Increasing Detection in the Rising Incidence of Prostate Cancer JAMA 1995: 273; 548-552
  20. Threlfall T, English D, and Rouse I. Prostate Cancer in Western Australia: trends in incidence and mortality from 1985 to 1996 MJA 1998; 169: 21-24.
  21. Smith DP, Supramaniam R, Marshall VR, et al. Prostate cancer and prostate-specific antigen testing in New South Wales. Med J Aust 2008 15;189(6):315-8.
  22. Carsin AE, Drummond FJ, Black A, et al. Impact of PSA testing and prostatic biopsy on cancer incidence and mortality: comparative study between the Republic of Ireland and Northern Ireland. Cancer Causes Control 2010;21(9):1523-31.
  23. Sirovich BE, Schwartz LM, Woloshin S. Screening men for prostate and colorectal cancer in the United States: does practice reflect the evidence? JAMA 2003; 289:1414-1420.
  24. Lifetime risk was calculated by the Statistical Information Team at Cancer Research UK, 2012.
  25. Ferlay J, Shin HR, Bray F, et al. Estimates of worldwide burden of cancer in 2008: GLOBOCAN 2008. Int J Cancer 2010;127:2893-917.
  26. Ferlay J, Shin HR, Bray F, et al. GLOBOCAN 2008 v1.2, Cancer incidence and mortality worldwide: IARC CancerBase No. 10 [Internet]. Lyon, France: International Agency for Research on Cancer; 2010. Available from Accessed May 2011.
  27. U.S. Cancer Statistics Working Group. United States Cancer Statistics: 1999– 2007 Incidence and Mortality Web-based Report. Atlanta: U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and National Cancer Institute; 2010. Available at:
  28. Ben-Shlomo Y, Evans S, Ibrahim F, et al. The risk of prostate cancer amongst black men in the United Kingdom: the PROCESS cohort study. Eur Urol 2008; 53(1):99-105.
  29. European Age-Standardised rates calculated by the Cancer Research UK Statistical Information Team, 2011, using data from GLOBOCAN 2008 v1.2, IARC, version 1.2.
  30. NCIN. Cancer Incidence by Deprivation, England, 1995-2004. London: NCIN; 2008.
  31. ISD Scotland. Cancer statistics. Cancer of the prostate. Accessed January 2013.
  32. Donnelly DW, Gavin AT, Comber H. Cancer in Ireland 1994-2004: A comprehensive report. Northern Ireland Cancer Registry/National Cancer Registry, Ireland; 2009.
  33. Welsh Cancer Intelligence and Surveillance Unit. Cancer in Wales, 1995-2009: A Comprehensive Report. Wales: 2011.
  34. NCIN. One, Five and Ten Year Cancer Prevalence by Cancer Network, UK, 2006. London: NCIN; 2010.
  35. Esteve J, Benhamou E and Raymond L. Descriptive epidemiology [IARC Scientific Publications No.128], p 67-68. Lyon: International Agency for Research on Cancer; 1994.
Updated: 22 January 2013