Liver cancer statistics


New cases of liver cancer, 2013, UK


Deaths from liver cancer, 2012, UK


Preventable cases of liver cancer, UK

  • There were around 5,400 new cases of liver cancer in the UK in 2013, that’s around 15 cases diagnosed every day.
  • Liver cancer is the 18th most common cancer in the UK (2013).
  • Liver cancer accounts for 2% of all new cases in the UK (2013).
  • In males in the UK, liver cancer is the 14th most common cancer, with around 3,500 cases diagnosed in 2013.
  • In females in the UK, liver cancer is the 19th most common cancer, with around 1,900 cases diagnosed in 2013. 
  • Most liver cancers are liver cell carcinomas and intrahepatic bile duct carcinomas.
  • Almost 6 in 10 (58%) liver cancer cases in the UK each year are diagnosed in people aged 70 and over (2011-2013).
  • Since the late 1970s, liver cancer incidence rates have more than tripled (236% increase) in Great Britain. The increase is similar in females (224% increase), and males (217%).
  • Over the last decade, liver cancer incidence rates have increased by more than half (53%) in the UK. The increase is similar in females (46% increase), and males (55%).
  • Liver cancer in England is more common in males living in the most deprived areas. There is no association for females.
  • In Europe, around 63,500 new cases of liver cancer were estimated to have been diagnosed in 2012. The UK incidence rate is 14th lowest in Europe for males and 17th lowest for females.
  • Worldwide, more than 782,000 people were estimated to have been diagnosed with liver cancer in 2012, with incidence rates varying across the world.
  • 1 in 105 men and 1 in 195 women will be diagnosed with liver cancer during their lifetime.

Read more in-depth liver cancer incidence statistics

  • In the UK in 2012 around 4,500 people died of liver cancer, that is 12 people every day.
  • In 2012 in the UK around 2,700 men and 1,800 women died from liver cancer.
  • Liver cancer mortality rates have increased have increased more than three-fold in males and more than four-fold in females since the mid-1970s in the UK.
  • Liver cancer deaths in England are more common in people living in the most deprived areas.
  • Worldwide, an estimated 745,000 people were estimated to have died from liver cancer in 2012, with mortality rates varying across the world.

Read more in-depth liver cancer mortality statistics

  • 42% (49% in males and 28% in females) of liver cancer cases each year in the UK are linked to major lifestyle and other risk factors.
  • A person’s risk of developing liver cancer depends on many factors, including age,genetics, and exposure to risk factors (including some potentially avoidable lifestyle factors).
  • An estimated 42% of liver cancer cases in the UK are linked to lifestyle factors including smoking (23%), infections (16%), and alcohol (9%).
  • Oral contraceptives, some types of ionising radiation, and certain occupational exposures cause liver cancer.
  • Fruit may relate to lower liver cancer risk, but evidence is unclear.
  • Overweight and obesity, and certain medical conditions, may relate to higher liver cancer risk.

Read more in-depth liver cancer risk factors

  • Emergency presentation is the most common route to diagnosis of liver cancer.
  • ‘Two-week wait’ standards are met by all countries, ‘31 day wait’ is met by all but Northern Ireland, and ‘62 day wait’ is not met by any country for upper gastrointestinal cancers.
  • Around 5 in 100 liver cancer patients receive major surgical resection as part of their cancer treatment.
  • More than 8 in 10 patients had a ‘very good’ or ‘excellent’ patient experience.
  • Around 8 in 10 patients are given the name of their Clinical Nurse Specialist.

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The latest statistics available for liver cancer in the UK are; incidence 2013, mortality 2012 and survival 2009-2013 (by age). Reliable survival data for trends over time in the UK is not available.

The ICD code Open a glossary item for liver cancer is ICD-10 C22.

European Age-Standardised Rates were calculated using the 1976 European Standard Population (ESP) unless otherwise stated as calculated with ESP2013. ASRs calculated with ESP2013 are not comparable with ASRs calculated with ESP1976.

Lifetime risk estimates were calculated using incidence, mortality, population and all-cause mortality data for 2012 for males and 2010-2012 for females due to the small number of cases.

Survival statistics give an overall picture of survival and (unless otherwise stated) include all adults (15-99) diagnosed, at all ages, stages Open a glossary item and co-morbidities Open a glossary item. The survival time experienced by an individual patient may be much higher or lower, depending on specific patient and tumour characteristics. If you are a patient, please see our patient information.

Meta-analyses Open a glossary item and systematic reviews Open a glossary item are cited where available, as they provide the best overview of all available research and most take study quality into account. Individual case-control and cohort studies Open a glossary item are reported where such aggregated data are lacking.

Routes to diagnosis statistics were calculated from cases of cancer registered in England which were diagnosed in 2012-2013.

Cancer waiting times statistics are for patients who entered the health care system within financial year 2014-15. Liver cancer is part of the group 'Upper Gastrointestinal cancer' for cancer waiting times data. Codes vary per country but broadly include: oesophagus, stomach, liver, gallbladder, other and unspecified parts of biliary tract, pancreas, secondary cancers of liver, intrahepatic bile duct and duodenum.

Cancer surgical resection rates data is for patients diagnosed in England between 2006 and 2010.

Patient Experience data is for adult patients in England with a primary diagnosis of cancer, who were in active treatment between September and November 2013 and who completed a survey in 2014.

Deprivation gradient statistics were calculated using incidence data for three time periods: 1996-2000, 2001-2005 and 2006-2010 and for mortality for two time periods: 2002-2006 and 2007-2011. The 1997-2001 mortality data were only used for the all cancers combined group as this time period includes the change in coding from ICD-9 to ICD-10. The deprivation quintiles were calculated using the Income domain scores from the Index of Multiple Deprivation (IMD) from the following years: 2004, 2007 and 2010. Full details on the data and methodology can be found in the Cancer by Deprivation in England NCIN report.


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We would like to acknowledge the essential work of the cancer registries in the United Kingdom and Ireland Association of Cancer Registries, without which there would be no data.

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