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 of many cancers strongly linked to lifestyle related risk factors, such as kidney, liver, malignant melanoma, oraland uterine cancers. 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.
The 20 Most Common Cancers, Percentage Change in European Age-Standardised Three Year Average Incidence Rates, Males, UK, 2001-2003 and 2010-2012
The 20 Most Common Cancers, Percentage Change in European Age-Standardised Three Year Average Incidence Rates, Females, UK, 2001-2003 and 2010-2012
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.
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).