Cancer statistics

Estimate of preventable cancers in the UK

Here we provide the latest cancer statistics for the UK, as well as what proportion of cancer cases could be prevented.

Cancer incidence

In the UK in 2017, 366,303 cases of cancer were diagnosed. Of these cancer cases, 186,883 were in men, and 179,420 were in women1. 1 in 2 people in the UK will be diagnosed with cancer in their lifetimes2.

Cancer mortality

In the UK in 2017, there were 165,2671 cancer deaths. Of these deaths, 88,027 were men and 77,240 were women.

Breast cancer

Breast cancer is one of the most commons forms of cancer found in women in the UK, although it can be diagnosed in men at a lower rate. Breast cancer is rare in men, with around 400 new cases diagnosed each year in the UK, compared with 54,724 new cases in women in 20171.

Prostate cancer

Prostate cancer is the most common cancer among men in the UK. In 2017, 48,561 cases of prostate cancer were diagnosed1 – more than a quarter of all new cases of cancer in males in the UK. 

How to prevent cancer

Cancer is the cause of death for a large number of people each year – for a portion of those people, the cancer was preventable. Overall, scientists estimate that around 40% of cancer cases could be prevented. That's around 147,000 cases every year in the UK.

There are a range of different risk factors that can influence your chances of developing cancer. However, there are steps that can be taken to help people safe from the disease, or to protect yourself from recurrence. 

Eating a healthy diet, being more active each day and maintaining a healthy weight are important ways you can reduce your cancer risk.

> To know more about what you can do, read our recommendations for preventing cancer.

1Cancer statistics based on combined data from EnglandScotlandNorthern Ireland. World Cancer Research Fund, 2020.
2Smittenaar CR, Petersen KA, Stewart K, Moitt N. Cancer incidence and mortality projections in the UK until 2035. Br J Cancer 2016 Oct 25;115(9):1147-1155