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Worldwide cancer mortality statistics

Mortality statistics for cancer worldwide by world region, common cancers, and trends over time are presented here.

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

By world region

In 2012, there were an estimated 8.2 million deaths from cancer in the world (Figure 2.1): 4.7 million (57%) in males and 3.5 million (43%) in females, giving a male:female ratio of 10:8.1 The age-standardised (AS) mortality rate shows that there are 126 cancer deaths for every 100,000 men in the world, and 83 for every 100,000 females.

Figure 2.1 is an interactive tool. Use it to explore the data by world region and individual country. For each region or country, numbers of deaths and World age-standardised (AS) rates are given for all cancers combined and the most common cause of cancer death in that area. 

Figure 2.1: Interactive Map of Cancer Mortality, World, 2012 Estimates

Cancer incidence and mortality statistics should be interpreted bearing in mind population size and age.2 
Non-melanoma skin cancer (NMSC) is excluded because data on this type of cancer are not reliable.
Kaposi sarcoma (C46) is included for Sub-Saharan Africa only.

Download a print version of this map

Visit the GLOBOCAN website to download data tables

Tell us what you think of our interactive map by emailing stats.team@cancer.org.uk

The World AS mortality rates in males vary more than two-fold across the different world regions, ranging from 173 per 100,000 in Central and Eastern Europe to 68 per 100,000 in Western Africa (2012) (Figure 2.1).1 In females rates vary more than three-fold, ranging from 119 per 100,000 in Melanesia to 65 per 100,000 in South-Central Asia (2012).

Armenia has the highest cancer mortality rate in males (210 per 100,000), while Zimbabwe has the highest rate in females (146 per 100,000) (2012).1 Out of 84 countries worldwide, the UK has the 56th highest cancer mortality rate for males and 36th highest for females (2012).

Mortality rates also vary by human development index (HDI) value. In males, mortality rates are 51% higher in very high HDI countries (132 cases per 100,000) compared to low HDI countries (low/medium HDI) (87 cases per 100,000) (2012).1 In females, rates vary only slightly between very high HDI countries (85 cases per 100,000) and low HDI countries (87 cases per 100,000) (2012). Caution should be taken when interpreting cancer mortality by HDI values because differences may reflect differences in data quality.

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

Common cancers

The most common four causes of cancer death worldwide - lung, liver, stomach, and bowel - account for nearly half (46%) of all cancer deaths (Figure 2.2).1 These are different to the most common causes of cancer death in the UK

Figure 2.2: The 10 Most Common Causes of Cancer Death, World, 2012 Estimates

world_mort_10common.swf

Download this chart XLS (48KB) PPT (137KB) PDF (27KB)

Non-melanoma skin cancer (NMSC) is excluded because data on this type of cancer are not reliable.

The four most common causes of cancer death in each world region are shown in Figure 2.1 and can be explored by country by clicking on the map. Data quality for each country is also shown. 

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

Trends over time

The most common causes of cancer death worldwide have changed little over the last 40 years. Lung, liver, stomach and bowel cancers have been the four most common causes of cancer death since 1975.1,3-8

Caution should be taken when interpreting trends over time for cancers worldwide because changes probably also reflect changes in data recording.

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

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References for worldwide cancer mortality statistics

  1. Ferlay J, Soerjomataram I, Ervik M, et al. GLOBOCAN 2012 v1.0, Cancer Incidence and Mortality Worldwide: IARC CancerBase No. 11 [Internet]. Lyon, France: International Agency for Research on Cancer; 2013. Available from: http://globocan.iarc.fr, accessed December 2013.
  2. United Nations, Department of Economic and Social Affairs, Population Division (2013). UN World Population Prospects: The 2012 Revision. Accessed November 2013.
  3. Parkin DM, Stjernsward J, Muir CS. Estimates of the worldwide frequency of twelve major cancers. Bull World Health Organ. 1984;62(2):163-82.
  4. Parkin DM, Laara E, Muir CS. Estimates of the worldwide frequency of sixteen major cancers in 1980. Int J Cancer. 1988 Feb 15;41(2):184-97.
  5. Parkin DM, Pisani P, Ferlay J. Estimates of the worldwide incidence of eighteen major cancers in 1985. Int J Cancer. 1993 Jun 19;54(4):594-606.
  6. Parkin DM, Pisani P, Ferlay J. Estimates of the worldwide incidence of 25 major cancers in 1990. Int J Cancer. 1999 Mar 15;80(6):827-41.
  7. Parkin DM, Bray F, Ferlay J, Pisani P. Estimating the World Cancer Burden: GLOBOCAN 2000. Int J Cancer. 2001 Oct 15;94(2):153-156.
  8. 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: http://globocan.iarc.fr.
Updated: 14 February 2014