Lifetime risk of cancer

Lifetime Risk

Nearly 1 in 2 people born in the UK in 1961 will be diagnosed with some form of cancer during their lifetime

The estimated lifetime risk of being diagnosed with cancer is nearly 1 in 2 (43%) for females, and nearly 1 in 2 (45%) for males born in 1961 in the UK.[1]

This is slightly lower than previous estimates.[2]

These figures take account of the possibility that someone can have more than one diagnosis of cancer in their lifetime ('Adjusted for Multiple Primaries' (AMP) method).[3]


  1. Lifetime risk estimates calculated by the Cancer Intelligence Team at Cancer Research UK 2023. 
  2. Sasieni PD, Shelton J, Ormiston-Smith N, et al. What is the lifetime risk of developing cancer?: The effect of adjusting for multiple primaries. Br J Cancer, 2011. 105(3): p. 460-5.

About this data

Data is for UK, past and projected cancer incidence and mortality and all-cause mortality rates for those born in 1961, ICD-10 C00-C97 excluding C44.

Calculated by the Cancer Intelligence Team at Cancer Research UK, 2023 (as yet unpublished). Lifetime risk of being diagnosed with cancer for people in the UK born in 1961. Based on method from Ahmad et al. 2015 [2], using projected cancer incidence (using observed data up to 2018) calculated by the Cancer Intelligence Team at Cancer Research UK and projected all-cause mortality (using observed data up to 2020, with adjustment for COVID impact) calculated by Office for National Statistics. Differences from previous analyses are attributable mainly to the slowing pace of improvement in life expectancy, and also to slowing/stabilising increases in cancer incidence.

Last reviewed:

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