Statistics on preventable cancers

Preventable cases

Cancer cases are preventable, UK, 2015

 

Caused by smoking

Smoking is the largest cause of cancer in the UK

Caused by obesity

Overweight and obesity is the UK's biggest cause of cancer after smoking

Around 4 in 10 UK cancer cases every year could be prevented.[1

Variation by sex and country is generally only a few percentage points, so these differences should be interpreted cautiously.

All Cancers Excluding Non-Melanoma Skin Cancer (C00-C96 Excl. C44), Number of Preventable Cases and Percentage of Total Cases Which Are Preventable, UK, 2015

    England Scotland Wales Northern Ireland UK
Males Preventable cases 58,141 6,567 3,838 1,856 70,425
Preventable percentage 38.0% 43.3% 39.0% 39.9% 38.6%
Females Preventable cases 53,480 6,455 3,373 1,663 65,130
Preventable percentage 36,4% 39.7% 36.5% 36.1% 36.8%
Persons Preventable cases 111,722 13,038 7,207 3,519 135,507
Preventable percentage 37.3% 41.5% 37.8% 38.0% 37.7%

The proportion of cases which are preventable is slightly higher for males than for females. This is mainly because risk factor exposure (e.g. smoking prevalence) is generally higher in males than females. The higher risk factor exposure in males outweighs the larger number of sex-specific cancer types and risk factors in females.

The proportion of cases which are preventable is slightly higher in Scotland than in the other UK nations. This is mainly because risk factor exposure is generally higher in Scotland than the other UK nations. Variation in risk factor exposure by country reflects data quality and demographic differences. For example, deprivation is associated with smoking, and with susceptibility to environmental/societal factors such as food pricing and availability.[2,3]

Download this infographic in A4 for print, or in landscape format for presentations.

See also

Want to generate bespoke preventable cancers stats statements? Download our interactive statement generator.

More information about our methodology for risk factor evidence

Risk factors by cancer type

References

  1. Brown KF, Rumgay H, Dunlop C, et al. The fraction of cancer attributable to known risk factors in England, Wales, Scotland, Northern Ireland, and the UK overall in 2015. British Journal of Cancer 2018. 
  2. Office for National Statistics. Adult smoking habits in the UK: 2015. Accessed October 2017.
  3. McGill R, et al. Are interventions to promote healthy eating equally effective for all? Systematic review of socioeconomic inequalities in impact. BMC Public Health 2015: 15, 457

About this data

Data is for: UK, 2015, ICD-10 C00-C97 excl. C44.

Last reviewed:

Lung cancer, bowel cancer, melanoma skin cancer, and breast cancer together account for almost two-thirds of all preventable cancer cases in the UK.[1] The same is true for the four UK nations individually.

Cancer Types with Largest Number of Preventable Cases, UK, Persons, 2015

For ten cancer types, more than 70% of cases are preventable. For many of these cancer types there is one specific risk factor contributing all of the preventable cases, e.g. HIV for Kaposi sarcoma, and asbestos for mesothelioma. For some there are multiple risk factors e.g. smoking, occupation, air pollution and ionising radiation for lung cancer.

Cancer Types with Highest Proportion of Preventable Cases, UK, Persons, 2015

See also

Want to generate bespoke preventable cancers stats statements? Download our interactive statement generator.

More information about our methodology for risk factor evidence

Risk factors by cancer type

About this data

Data is for: UK, 2015, ICD-10 C00-C97 excl. C44.

Last reviewed:

Tobacco smoking is by far the largest cause of cancer in the UK.[1] Overweight and obesity is the UK’s biggest cause of cancer after smoking. The same is true for the four UK nations individually.

Risk Factors by Number of Preventable Cases, UK, Persons, 2015

UK portrait version shown here. Country versions, cancers caused by other risk factors, and landscape formats are available for free from our cancer risk publications.

See also

Want to generate bespoke preventable cancers stats statements? Download our interactive statement generator.

More information about our methodology for risk factor evidence

Risk factors by cancer type

About this data

Data is for: UK, 2015, ICD-10 C00-C97 excl. C44.

Last reviewed:

Local Cancer Statistics

Local level cancer statistics; search profiles by area, constituency or health board in the UK..

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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Acknowledgements

We are grateful to the many organisations across the UK which collect, analyse, and share the data which we use, and to the patients and public who consent for their data to be used. Find out more about the sources which are essential for our statistics.

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