Worldwide cancer statistics
New cases of cancer worldwide, 2018
Deaths from cancer worldwide, 2018
Cancer cases linked to exposure to tobacco smoke, worldwide
- There were 17 million new cases of cancer worldwide in 2018.
- The four most common cancers occurring worldwide are lung, female breast, bowel and prostate cancer. These four account for more than four in ten of all cancers diagnosed worldwide.
- Worldwide there will be 27.5 million new cases of cancer each year by 2040.
- UK incidence is ranked higher than two-thirds of Europe.
- UK incidence is ranked higher than 90% of the world.
- There were 9.6 million deaths from cancer worldwide in 2018.
- Lung, liver, stomach, and bowel are the most common causes of cancer death worldwide, accounting for more than four in ten of all cancer deaths.
- Lung, liver, stomach and bowel cancers have been the four most common causes of cancer death since 1975.
- UK mortality is ranked lower than two-thirds of Europe.
- UK mortality is ranked higher than two-thirds of the world.
- A person’s risk of developing cancer depends on many factors, including age, genetics, and exposure to risk factors (including some potentially avoidable lifestyle factors). Cancer risk factors are overall similar worldwide. Smoking, insufficient physical activity, alcohol, diet, overweight and obesity, and infections account for a high proportion of cancers worldwide, as they do in the UK.
- Prevalence of different risk factors varies by region and country, this is partly why overall cancer incidence rates, and the most common types of cancer, also vary by region and country.
- Worldwide, 1 billion adults currently smoke cigarettes.
- Smoking is the single most preventable cause of death in the world, and around a third of tobacco-caused deaths are due to cancer (2015 projected).
- Alcohol drinking causes an estimated 6% of deaths worldwide, around 1 in 8 of which are due to cancer (2012). Alcohol drinking prevalence is highest in Europe and America.
- Overweight and obesity prevalence is increasing particularly in low- and middle-income countries. Overweight and obesity are leading causes of death worldwide.
- Unhealthy diets, e.g. low in fruit and vegetables and high in salt, are becoming more common in lower-resource countries.
- Infections cause 18% of the global cancer burden, with a much higher proportion in low-income countries.
You are welcome to reuse this Cancer Research UK content for your own work.
Credit us as authors by referencing Cancer Research UK as the primary source. Suggested styles are:
Web content: Cancer Research UK, full URL of the page, Accessed [month] [year].
Publications: Cancer Research UK ([year of publication]), Name of publication, Cancer Research UK.
Graphics (when reused unaltered): Credit: Cancer Research UK.
Graphics (when recreated with differences): Based on a graphic created by Cancer Research UK.
When Cancer Research UK material is used for commercial reasons, we encourage a donation to our life-saving research.
Send a cheque payable to Cancer Research UK to: Cancer Research UK, 2 Redman Place, London, E20 1JQ or
We’re now on twitter.
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.