Lifetime risk of cancer

Lifetime risk

1 in 2 people born after 1960 in the UK will be diagnosed with some form of cancer during their lifetime

Risk in men

Males have the highest lifetime risk of prostate, lung and bowel cancers

Risk in women

Females have the highest lifetime risk of breast, lung and bowel cancers

Estimates of the lifetime risk of being diagnosed with cancer varies by cancer type, sex and age.

For females the cancer type with the highest lifetime risk is breast cancer followed by lung and bowel cancer. For males the cancer type with the highest lifetime risk is prostate cancer, again followed by lung cancer and bowel cancer.[1]

Cancer is primarily a disease of older people, as the difference between the estimates for the percentage of people who are diagnosed with cancer by age 65 and over a lifetime show. For instance, for men there is a less than 2% risk of being diagnosed with lung cancer by age 65 but this increases to almost 8% over a lifetime.[1]

The 15 Most Common Male and Female Cancers, Risk of Being Diagnosed with Cancer by Age 65 and Over a Lifetime, UK, 2012​​

Cancer Site Male Female
  Up to Age 64 (%) Lifetime Risk (%) Lifetime Risk (1 in X) Up to Age 64 (%) Lifetime Risk (%) Lifetime Risk (1 in X)
Bladder (C67) 0.33

2.62

39

0

.13

0.95 106
​​Brain, Other CNS and Intracranial Tumours (C70-C72, C75.1-C75.3, D32-D33, D35.2-D35.4, D42-D43, D44.3-D44.5) 0.61 1.35 74 0.60 1.37 73
Breast (C50) 0.03 0.12 869 6.11 12.99

8

Bowel (C18-C20) 1.64 7.27 14 1.18 5.47 19
Cervix (C53)       0.56 0.76 133
Kidney (C64-C66,C68) 0.58 1.96 52 0.33 1.15 87
Leukaemia (C91-C95) 0.45 1.61 63 0.31 1.07

94

Liver (C22) 0.23 0.95 105 0.09 0.52 193
Lung (C33-C34) 1.34 7.76 13 1.20 6.17 17
Malignant Melanoma (C43) 0.71 1.94 52 0.90 1.85 54
Myeloma (C90) 0.19 0.89 113 0.13 0.66

153

Non-Hodgkin Lymphoma (C82-C85) 0.66 2.12 48 0.47 1.73 58
Oesophagus (C15) 0.45 1.85 55 0.15

0.90

112
Oral (C00-C06,C09-C10, C12-C14) 0.67 1.34 75 0.27 0.68 147
Ovary (C56-C57.4)       0.78 1.95 52
Pancreas (C25) 0.29 1.44 70 0.23 1.38 75
Prostate (C61) 2.67 13.72 8      
Stomach (C16) 0.26 1.51 67 0.13 0.76 132
Uterus (C54-C55)       0.87 2.44 41

Breast cancer (males) and liver cancer (females) are based on 2010-2012 data due to having fewer than 2,000 cases per year.
Leukaemia, myeloma, non-Hodgkin lymphoma, and cervical, liver, oesophageal, pancreatic, prostate and uterine cancers are calculated using the Current Probability method. All other sites calculated using the AMP method.
Last reviewed:

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