UK cancer statistics

Latest cancer rates, including incidence, mortality and preventability, for 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, 366,303 cases of cancer were diagnosed in 2017, the latest year for which data is available. 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 lifetime2.

> Download a table of the UK's most common cancers

> Download a table of the UK's most common fatal cancers

Breast cancer

Breast cancer is the most common type of cancer among women in the UK, with 54,724 new cases in 20171. Breast cancer is rare in men, with around 400 new cases diagnosed each year in the UK.

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 men in the UK. 

Lung cancer

Lung cancer is the third most common type of cancer in the UK across men and women, with 47,941 new cases in 20171 – totalling 13% of all new cases (men and women combined). 

Bowel cancer

Also known as colorectal cancer, bowel cancer is the cancer type with the fourth highest number of new cases in the UK. In 2017, there were 43,438 new cases1 (men and women combined), accounting for 12% of the total number of new cases.

In fact, the top 4 cancer types accounted for more than half (53%) the total number of new cases in 2017.

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.

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 England, Scotland, Northern Ireland and Wales. 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