Cancer incidence for common cancers

There are more than 200 different types of cancer, but four of them - breast, lung, prostate and bowel - account for over half (53%) of all new cases in the UK (2012).[1-4] Breast cancer is the most common cancer in the UK, despite the fact that it is rare in men.

The 20 Most Common Cancers, UK, 2012

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.

Excluding non-melanoma skin cancer.

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 2014. 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 2014. 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, April 2014. Similar data can be found here: http://www.wales.nhs.uk/sites3/page.cfm?orgid=242&pid=59080
  4. Data were provided by the Northern Ireland Cancer Registry on request, June 2014. Similar data can be found here: http://www.qub.ac.uk/research-centres/nicr/
Last reviewed:

Prostate cancer, with an age-standardised (AS) incidence rate Open a glossary item of 171 per 100,000 males, accounts for one in four (25%) male cases.[1-4] The next most common cancers are lung cancer (14%; even though the rate of lung cancer has fallen almost continuously since the early-1980s) and bowel cancer (14%). Prostate, lung and bowel cancers together account for over half (53%) of all new cases in males in the UK. Bladder, oesophageal and oral cancers, and leukaemia, are among the ten most common cancers in males, but not in females. Cancer of unknown primary accounts for 3% of new cancer cases in males.

The 10 Most Common Cancers in Males, UK, 2012

3% of all male cases are registered as cancer of unknown primary (CUP).

Excluding non-melanoma skin cancer. Brain tumours: brain, other central nervous system (CNS) and intracranial tumours, including malignant, benign and uncertain or unknown behaviour tumours.

Data in this chart do not sum to ‘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.

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

Most Common Cancers in Males, Percentages of All Cancer Cases (C00-C97 excl. C44), UK, 2012

3% of all male cancer deaths are registered as cancer of unknown primary (CUP).

Excluding non-melanoma skin cancer.

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 2014. 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, May 2014. 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, April 2014. Similar data can be found here: http://www.wales.nhs.uk/sites3/page.cfm?orgid=242&pid=59080
  4. Data were provided by the Northern Ireland Cancer Registry on request, June 2014. Similar data can be found here: http://www.qub.ac.uk/research-centres/nicr/
Last reviewed:

Breast cancer, with an age-standardised (AS) incidence rate Open a glossary item of 163 per 100,000 women, is by far the most common cancer in females, accounting for almost a third (30%) of all female cases.[1-4] The next most common cancers in women are lung and bowel each accounting for similar proportions of cases (12% and 11%, respectively). Breast, lung and bowel cancers together account for over half (54%) of all new cases in females in the UK. Two of the ten most common cancers in females are sex-specific (uterusand ovary), compared with just one of the ten most common (prostate) in males. Cancer of unknown primary accounts for 3% of new cancer cases in females.

The 10 Most Common Cancers in Females, UK, 2012

3% of all female cases are registered as cancer of unknown primary (CUP).

Excluding non-melanoma skin cancer. Brain tumours: brain, other central nervous system (CNS) and intracranial tumours, including malignant, benign and uncertain or unknown behaviour tumours.

Data in this chart do not sum to ‘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.

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

Most Common Cancers in Females, Percentages of All Cancer Cases (C00-C97 excl. C44), UK, 2012

3% of all female cancer cases are registered as cancer of unknown primary (CUP).

Excluding non-melanoma skin cancer.

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 2014. 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 2014. 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, April 2014. Similar data can be found here: http://www.wales.nhs.uk/sites3/page.cfm?orgid=242&pid=59080
  4. Data were provided by the Northern Ireland Cancer Registry on request, June 2014. Similar data can be found here: http://www.qub.ac.uk/research-centres/nicr/
Last reviewed:

Incidence trends over the last decade in the UK vary by cancer type and sex.[1-4] There have been large increases in the age-standardised (AS) incidence rates Open a glossary item of many cancers strongly linked to lifestyle related risk factors, such as kidney, liver, malignant melanoma, oraland uterine cancers.[5] The decrease in bladdercancer incidence largely reflects a change in coding practicethat reduced the number of registrations of malignant bladder cancer from 2000 onwards, though decreasing smoking prevalence may also have played a part.[6]

The 20 Most Common Cancers, Percentage Change in European Age-Standardised Three Year Average Incidence Rates, Males, UK, 2001-2003 and 2010-2012

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

The 20 Most Common Cancers, Percentage Change in European Age-Standardised Three Year Average Incidence Rates, Females, UK, 2001-2003 and 2010-2012

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

While thyroid cancer is the fastest-increasing cancer in both males and females in the UK, with the AS incidence rates rising by around two-thirds in the last decade (68% and 67% for males and females respectively), it remains a rare cancer. Increased cancer incidence (and subsequent radiotherapy treatment, which is a risk factor for developing a subsequent malignancy), as well as incidental detection of early-stage tumours, may explain some of the increase.[7]

Malignant melanoma is the second-fastest increasing cancer in males and the third-fastest in females (with AS incidence rates rising by 62% and 38%, respectively, in the last decade). Some of the increase may be due to increased surveillance and early detection as well as improved diagnosis, but most is considered to be real and linked to increased exposure to UV rays (from sunlight and sunbeds).[8,9]

Liver cancer, though rare in the UK is the third-fastest increasing cancer in males and the second-fastest in females (increases of 47% and 39%, respectively, in the last decade). This increase may reflect rising alcohol consumption and subsequent higher rates of cirrhosis of the liver, and increased hepatitis B and C infection.[10-13]

Oral Cancer is the fourth-fastest increasing cancer in males and fifth-fastest in females (increases of 32% and 33%, respectively, in the last decade).

Kidney cancer is the fifth-fastest increasing cancer in males and the fourth-fastest in females (AS incidence rates have increased by 29% and 38%, respectively, in the last decade). Rising obesity levels in the UK may partly explain this increase.[14-16]

In the last decade the largest decreases in incidence have been in stomach cancer for both males and females (AS incidence rates decreasing by 31% and 29%, respectively). Much of this can be attributed to a decline in the prevalence of Helicobacter pylori (a major cause of stomach cancer), an increase in fresh food in the diet and possible changes in coding and diagnostic practices.[17,18]

There have also been large incidence decreases in the last decade for lung and laryngeal cancers in males (AS rates decreasing by 10% and 8%, respectively), and ovarian and oesophageal cancers in females (11% and 7% decreases, respectively).

References

  1. Data were provided by the Office for National Statistics on request, July 2014. 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 2014. 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, April 2014. Similar data can be found here: http://www.wales.nhs.uk/sites3/page.cfm?orgid=242&pid=59080
  4. Data were provided by the Northern Ireland Cancer Registry on request, June 2014. Similar data can be found here: http://www.qub.ac.uk/research-centres/nicr/CancerData/OnlineStatistics/
  5. Parkin DM, Boyd L, Walker LC. 16. The fraction of cancer attributable to lifestyle and environmental factors in the UK in 2010. Br J Cancer 2011;105 Suppl 2:S77-81.
  6. United Kingdom and Ireland Association of Cancer Registries. Library of Recommendations on Cancer Coding and Classification Policy and Practice: Bladder Cancer. UKIACR; 2004.
  7. Mellemkjær L, Friis S, Olsen JH, et al. Risk of second cancer among women with breast cancer. IJC 2006;118:2285-92.
  8. Thomson CS, Woolnough S, Wickenden M, et al. Sunbed use in children aged 11-17 in England: face to face quota sampling surveys in the National Prevalence Study and Six Cities Study. BMJ 2010;340:c877.
  9. Parkin DM, Mesher D, Sasieni P. 13. Cancers attributable to solar (ultraviolet) radiation exposure in the UK in 2010. Br J Cancer 2011;105 Suppl 2:S66-9.
  10. Fattovich G, Stroffolini T, Zagni I, et al. Hepatocellular carcinoma in cirrhosis: incidence and risk factors. Gastroenterology 2004;127:S35-50.
  11. Office for National Statistics. General Lifestyle Survey overview: A report on the 2010 general lifestyle survey. (PDF 131MB) 2013.
  12. Office for National Statistics. Alcohol-related deaths in the United Kingdom, 2011. London: ONS; 2013.
  13. Parkin DM. 11. Cancers attributable to infection in the UK in 2010. Brit J C 2011;105 Suppl 2:S49-56.
  14. Parkin DM. 2. Tobacco-attributable cancer burden in the UK in 2010. Br J Cancer 2011;105 Suppl 2:S6-S13.
  15. Cogliano VJ, Baan R, Straif K, et al. Preventable exposures associated with human cancers. J Natl Cancer Inst 2011;103:1827-39.
  16. Parkin DM, Boyd L. 8. Cancers attributable to overweight and obesity in the UK in 2010. Br J Cancer 2011;105 Suppl 2:S34-7.
  17. Vyse AJ, Gay NJ, Hesketh LM, et al. The burden of Helicobacter pylori infection in England and Wales. Epidemiol Infect 2002;128:411-7.
  18. National Cancer Intelligence Network. Incidence of stomach cancer in England, 1998-2007 - NCIN Data Briefing. London: NCIN; 2010.
Last reviewed:

England

Very few cancers have particularly high incidence rates in England in comparison with the rest of the UK. The incidence of bowel cancer is significantly lower in England (91 and 58 per 100,000, in males and females, respectively) compared with the other three countries in the UK (the highest incidence being 110 and 64 per 100,000 in males and females in Northern Ireland).[1-4]

Wales

The incidence rates for nearly all cancers in Wales show no significant differences in comparison with the three other UK countries. However, the incidence rate of ovarian cancer is significantly higher in Wales (29 per 100,000) compared with the other three countries in the UK (the lowest incidence being 22 per 100,000 in Northern Ireland).[1-4]

Scotland

The high prevalence of smoking in Scotland means that smoking-related cancers have particularly high incidence rates there. Lung cancer incidence is significantly higher in Scotland (121 and 92 per 100,000 in males and females, respectively) in comparison with the rest of the UK (the lowest incidence rates being in Wales for males, at 92 per 100,000, and in England for females, at 64 per 100,000).[1-4]

Prostate cancer has a significantly lower incidence rate in Scotland (131 per 100,000) in comparison with the three other UK countries (the highest incidence being 177 per 100,000 in Wales); this may be associated with differences in the availability and uptake of prostate specific antigen Open a glossary item (PSA) [glossary - PSA] testing across the UK.[5] The incidence rate of leukaemia in males is also significantly lower in Scotland (15 per 100,000) compared with the other UK countries.[1-4]

Northern Ireland

Very few cancers have significantly higher or lower incidence rates in Northern Ireland compared with the rest of the UK. The incidence rate of liver cancer in females in Northern Ireland (2 per 100,000) is significantly lower compared with the other three countries in the UK (the highest incidence being 6 per 100,000 in Scotland).[1-4]

References

  1. Data were provided by the Office for National Statistics on request, July 2014. 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 2014. 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, April 2014. Similar data can be found here: http://www.wales.nhs.uk/sites3/page.cfm?orgid=242&pid=59080
  4. Data were provided by the Northern Ireland Cancer Registry on request, June 2014. Similar data can be found here: http://www.qub.ac.uk/research-centres/nicr/
  5. Brewster D, Fraser L, Harris V, et al. Rising incidence of prostate cancer in Scotland: increased risk or increased detection? BJU International 2000;85:463-73.
Last reviewed:

Other comparative statistics

Citation

You are welcome to reuse this Cancer Research UK statistics content for your own work.

Credit us as authors by referencing Cancer Research UK as the primary source. Suggested styles are:

Web content: Cancer Research UK, full URL of the page, Accessed [month] [year]. 

Publications: Cancer Research UK ([year of publication]), Name of publication, Cancer Research UK. 

Rate this page:

Currently rated: 3.3 out of 5 based on 7 votes
Thank you!
We've recently made some changes to the site, tell us what you think

Share this page