Cancer incidence by age

Age

Peak rate of cancer cases, 2012-2014, UK

 

Trend over time

Age group with greatest increase in incidence rates since the late 1970s, GB

Cancer is primarily a disease of older people, with incidence rates increasing with age for most cancers.[1-4] In the UK in 2012-2014, on average each year half (50%) of cases were diagnosed in people aged 70 and over.

All Cancers (C00-C97 Excl. C44) Average Number of New Cases per Year and Age-Specific Incidence Rates, UK, 2012-2014

Children aged 0-14, and teenagers and young adults aged 15-24, each account for less than one per cent of all new cancer cases in the UK (2011-2013).[1-4] Adults aged 25-49 contribute a tenth (10%) of all new cancer cases, with twice as many cases in females as males in this age group.[1-4] Adults aged 50-74 account for over half (53%) of all new cancer cases, and elderly people aged 75+ account for over a third (36%), with slightly more cases in males than females in both age groups. There are more people aged 50-74 than aged 75+ in the population overall, hence the number of cancer cases is higher in 50-74s, but incidence rates are higher in 75+.

For most cancer types, incidence increases with age. This largely reflects cell DNA damage accumulating over time. Damage can result from biological processes or from exposure to risk factors. A drop or plateau in incidence in the oldest age groups often indicates reduced diagnostic activity perhaps due to general ill health.

References

  1. Data were provided by the Office for National Statistics on request, June 2016. Similar data can be found here: http://www.ons.gov.uk/peoplepopulationandcommunity/healthandsocialcare/conditionsanddiseases/bulletins/cancerregistrationstatisticsengland/previousReleases.
  2. Data were provided by ISD Scotland on request, May 2016. Similar data can be found here: http://www.isdscotland.org/Health-Topics/Cancer/Publications/.
  3. Data were provided by the Welsh Cancer Intelligence and Surveillance Unit, Health Intelligence Division, Public Health Wales on request, June 2016. Similar data can be found here: http://www.wcisu.wales.nhs.uk
  4. Data were provided by the Northern Ireland Cancer Registry on request, May 2016. Similar data can be found here: http://www.qub.ac.uk/research-centres/nicr/

About this data

Data is for UK, 2012-2014, ICD-10 (C00-C97 Excl. C44)

Last reviewed:

The five most common cancers in males and females vary considerably by age group, with particular differences in the cancer types diagnosed in children, teenagers and young adults, compared with the types diagnosed in older people.[1-7]

The Five Most Commonly Diagnosed Cancers in Males, Average Percentages and Numbers of New Cases, by Age, UK, 2012-2014

This chart excludes non-melanoma skin cancer because of known under-reporting. For the 25-49 age group, data in this chart do not sum to the all cancers combined total provided elsewhere, because 'Brain, other CNS (central nervous system) and intracranial' includes tumours that are malignant, benign and of uncertain or unknown behaviour but only the malignant tumours are included in 'all cancers combined' total. Percentages may not sum to 100% due to rounding. SNS: Sympathetic nervous system. Brain tumours: brain, other central nervous system (CNS) and intracranial tumours, including malignant, benign and uncertain or unknown behaviour tumours. Germ cell tumours e.g. testicular germ cell tumours. Carcinomas e.g. thyroid, cervix, bowel and ovary tumours, Children: cases 2006-2008, Great Britain. Teenagers and young adults: cases 2000-2009, UK.

In children in Great Britain, leukaemia is the most common cancer, accounting for around a third (31% in boys and 29% in girls) of all cases in 2006-2008.[5,6

In male teenagers and young adults in the UK, germ cell tumours are the most common cancers, accounting for more than a quarter (27%) of all cases in 2000-2009.[7]

In males aged 25-49 in the UK, testicular cancer is the most common cancer, accounting for around 3 in 20 (14%) of all cases in 2012-2014.[1-4]

In males aged 50-74 in the UK, prostate cancer is the most common cancer, accounting for more than a quarter (29%) of all cases in 2012-2014.[1-4]

In males aged 75+ in the UK, prostate cancer is the most common cancer, accounting for a quarter (25%) of all cases in 2012-2014.[1-4]

References

  1. Data were provided by the Office for National Statistics on request, June 2016. Similar data can be found here: http://www.ons.gov.uk/peoplepopulationandcommunity/healthandsocialcare/conditionsanddiseases/bulletins/cancerregistrationstatisticsengland/previousReleases
  2. Data were provided by ISD Scotland on request, May 2016. Similar data can be found here: http://www.isdscotland.org/Health-Topics/Cancer/Publications/ 
  3. Data were provided by the Welsh Cancer Intelligence and Surveillance Unit, Health Intelligence Division, Public Health Wales on request, June 2016. Similar data can be found here: http://ww.wcisu.wales.nhs.uk
  4. Data were provided by the Northern Ireland Cancer Registry on request, May 2016. Similar data can be found here: http://www.qub.ac.uk/research-centres/nicr/
  5. Childhood Cancer Research Group. (Accessed December 2012)
  6. Stiller CA. Childhood cancer in Britain: Incidence, survival, mortality. Oxford: Oxford University Press; 2007.
Last reviewed:

The five most common cancers in males and females vary considerably by age group, with particular differences in the cancer types diagnosed in children, teenagers and young adults, compared with the types diagnosed in older people.[1-7]

The Five Most Commonly Diagnosed Cancers in Females, Average Percentages and Numbers of New Cases, by Age, UK, 2012-2014

This chart excludes non-melanoma skin cancer because of known under-reporting. For the 25-49 age group, data in this chart do not sum to the all cancers combined total provided elsewhere, because 'Brain, other CNS (central nervous system) and intracranial' includes tumours that are malignant, benign and of uncertain or unknown behaviour but only the malignant tumours are included in 'all cancers combined' total. Percentages may not sum to 100% due to rounding. SNS: Sympathetic nervous system. Brain tumours: brain, other central nervous system (CNS) and intracranial tumours, including malignant, benign and uncertain or unknown behaviour tumours. Germ cell tumours e.g. testicular germ cell tumours. Carcinomas e.g. thyroid, cervix, bowel and ovary tumours, Children: cases 2006-2008, Great Britain. Teenagers and young adults: cases 2000-2009, UK.

In children in Great Britain, leukaemia is the most common cancer, accounting for around a third (31% in boys and 29% in girls) of all cases in 2006-2008.[5,6]

In female teenagers and young adults in the UK, carcinomas are the most common cancers, accounting for around a third (31%) of all cases in 2000-2009.[7]

In females aged 25-49 in the UK, breast cancer is the most common cancer, accounting for more than 4 in 10(44%) of all cases in 2012-2014.[1-4]

In females aged 50-74 in the UK, breast cancer is the most common cancer, accounting for around a third (34%) of all cases in 2012-2014.[1-4

In females aged 75+ in the UK, breast cancer is the most common cancer, accounting for around a fifth (21%) of all cases in 2012-2014.[1-4]

References

  1. Data were provided by the Office for National Statistics on request, June 2016. Similar data can be found here: http://www.ons.gov.uk/peoplepopulationandcommunity/healthandsocialcare/conditionsanddiseases/bulletins/cancerregistrationstatisticsengland/previousReleases
  2. Data were provided by ISD Scotland on request, May 2016. Similar data can be found here: http://www.isdscotland.org/Health-Topics/Cancer/Publications/ 
  3. Data were provided by the Welsh Cancer Intelligence and Surveillance Unit, Health Intelligence Division, Public Health Wales on request, June 2016. Similar data can be found here: http://ww.wcisu.wales.nhs.uk
  4. Data were provided by the Northern Ireland Cancer Registry on request, May 2016. Similar data can be found here: http://www.qub.ac.uk/research-centres/nicr/
  5. Childhood Cancer Research Group. (Accessed December 2012)
  6. Stiller CA. Childhood cancer in Britain: Incidence, survival, mortality. Oxford: Oxford University Press; 2007.
Last reviewed:

Incidence rates for all cancers combined have increased for all of the broad age groups in Great Britain since the late 1970s.[1-3]

The largest increase has been in people aged 0-24, with European age-standardised (AS) Open a glossary item incidence rates increasing by 43% between 1979-1981 and 2011-2013. The smallest increase has been in people aged 50-74, with rates increasing by 29% between 1979-1981 and 2011-2013

All Cancers Excluding Non-Melanoma Skin Cancer (C00-C97 Excl. C44), European Age-Standardised Incidence Rates, By Age, Great Britain, 1979-2013

All cancers for people aged 0-24 includes all malignant tumours excluding non-melanoma skin cancer (ICD-10 codes: C00-C97 excl C44) and all benign/uncertain or unknown behaviour brain, other central nervous system and intracranial tumours (ICD-10 codes: D32-D33, D35.2-D35.4, D42-D43 and D44.3-D44.5). All cancers for all other age groups do not include benign/uncertain or unknown behaviour brain, other central nervous system and intracranial tumours.

ASR calculated with ESP2013. Not comparable with ASRs calculated with ESP1976.

References

  1. Data were provided by the Office for National Statistics on request, July 2015. Similar data can be found here: http://www.ons.gov.uk/ons/rel/vsob1/cancer-statistics-registrations--england--series-mb1-/index.html
  2. Data were provided by ISD Scotland on request, April 2015. Similar data can be found here: http://www.isdscotland.org/Health-Topics/Cancer/Publications/index.asp
  3. Data were provided by the Welsh Cancer Intelligence and Surveillance Unit on request, February 2015. Similar data can be found here: http://www.wales.nhs.uk/sites3/page.cfm?orgid=242&pid=59080
Last reviewed:

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Cancer Statistics Explained

See information and explanations on terminology used for statistics and reporting of cancer, and the methods used to calculate some of our statistics.

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