How have cancer incidence, mortality and survival rates in the UK changed? What are the most common cancers? This briefing paper provides a short overview.

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Cancer diagnoses and deaths

296,000 people were diagnosed with cancer in England in 2014. Rates have grown by 3.4% for men and 16.2% for women since 1995. However, death rates from cancer have fallen by 22% for men and 15% for women over this period.

Cancer diagnoses and deaths from cancer, 1995 to 2014, England

The most common cancers among men are prostate (28% of all male cancers), lung, and colorectal. Among women, the most common cancers are breast (34%), lung and colorectal. For both genders, the most common three cancers account for more than half of all cancers. Click on the image below for more details.

Most common cancers, by gender (percent of all diagnoses), England, 2014

Cancer and Age

Cancer is most common among older people. Two thirds of diagonses are for those aged 65 or over. 23% are for those aged 80 or over. 

Cancer diagnosesby age, 2014, England

Click below to view a chart of cancer diagnoses by age.

Cumulative percentage of cases in each age category

Survival Rates

Five-year cancer survival rates have increased substantially over recent decades. In the early 1970s, only around 30% of those diagnosed with cancer could expect to survive for five years. For those diagnosed in 2010-11, it is estimated that 54% will survive for 5 years.

Survival rates vary substantially for different cancers. Only 1 in 20 people diagnosed with pancreatic cancer and 1 in 7 people diagnosed with lung cancer survive for 5 years. By contrast, five-year survival rates are at 97% for testicular cancer and 86% for breast cancer.

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