Lifetime risk of cancer

Lifetime risk

1 in 2 UK people will be diagnosed with cancer in their lifetime

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




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


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


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


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


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:

Local Cancer Statistics

Local level cancer statistics; searchable by a local area or constituency in England.

Interested in an overview for Wales, Scotland or Northern Ireland?

Cancer stats explained

See information and explanations on terminology used for statistics and reporting of cancer, and the methods used to calculate some of our statistics.


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