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Cancer facts and figures

Incidence of cancer in the UK

2011 figures showed that around 331,500 people were diagnosed with cancer in the UK.

Deaths from cancer in the UK

2011 figures showed there were 159,178 cancer-related deaths in the UK. The breakdown of deaths by cancer type is shown in the table below:

Proportion of total cancer deaths by type
(Top 10 cancers)

Source: Cancer Research UK

Cancer type Percentage of total
cancer deaths
Lung 22%
Bowel 10.3%
Breast 7.7%
Prostate 6.5%
Pancreatic 5%
Oesophageal 4.8%
Stomach 3.3%
Bladder 3.2%
Non-Hodgkin's Lymphoma 2.8%
Leukaemia 2.8%

Survival rates

Overall, around 50% of people diagnosed with a form of cancer now survive for 5 years or more (the 'five year survival rate'). But there are over 200 different types of cancer, and underpinning this 50% average is a very mixed picture of survival rates depending on the cancer type.

For example:

  • For breast cancer, the 5 year survival rate is 80%
  • For prostate cancer, the 5 year survival rate is 70%
  • With lung cancer, the 5 year survival rate is 7%
  • With pancreatic cancer, the 5 year survival rate is 3%

Improvements in survival rates also vary considerably, with some cancers showing significant improvement in survival rates over time. The 5 year survival rate for pancreatic cancer has not changed in 40 years.

Comparison of cancers by survival rates

Cancer type

Current 5 year
survival rate

1970s 5 year
survival rate

Testicular

98%

69%

Breast

80%

50%

Prostate

70%

30%

Cervical

66%

52%

Bladder

61.5%

43%

Bowel

50%

25%

Non-Hodgkin's Lymphoma

50%

30%

Leukaemia

41%

12%

Ovarian

40%

23%

Stomach

15%

5%

Oesophageal

8%

3%

Lung

7%

4%

Pancreatic

3%

3%

 

Funding for research by cancer type

How much is spent on research for each type of cancer? This is a difficult question to answer, because funding comes from a variety of sources - some from government, some from the charitable sector and some from the pharmaceutical industry.

The most recent survey of the spending on cancer research shows that around £507 million was spent in 2012 by the major funding bodies from the sectors mentioned above.

The survey also shows that the levels of spending on different types of cancer can vary significantly, even where they have similar mortality rates:

 Funding by cancer graph

Key to cancer funding graph