Who gets cancer?
Each year nearly 300,000 people are diagnosed with cancer in the UK.
It has been estimated that more than 1 in 3 people (33%) will develop cancer at some point in their lifetime.
Cancers can occur at any age, but the risk of developing cancer increases with age. Cancer isn’t common in children or young people.
Three-quarters (75%) of all newly diagnosed cancers occur in people aged 60 or over.
Less than 1 in 100 (1%) of cancers are diagnosed in children, aged 14 years or under.
About 1 in 10 (10%) of cancers are diagnosed in people aged 25-49.
Some cancers are very common and others are very rare. The most recent statistics for the UK (from 2008) show that for men the most common cancer is prostate cancer (24% of all cancers in men), followed by lung cancer (15%), colon and rectal cancer (14%) and bladder cancer (5%).
For women, the statistics show that the most common cancers are breast cancer (31%), colon and rectal cancer (12%), lung cancer (12%) and womb cancer (5%).
Nearly a third (31%) of all cancers diagnosed in children are leukaemia. Teenagers and young people (aged 15-24) are more likely to be diagnosed with Hodgkin lymphoma, testicular cancer, melanoma and leukaemia. The most common types of cancer diagnosed in adults aged 25-49 are breast cancer, melanoma, bowel and cervical cancer.
There are over 200 different types of cancer. We don’t know the cause of most of these, but we know about some of the risk factors that can increase or influence a person’s risk. Increasing age is a risk factor that we can’t do anything about. But we can make lifestyle choices about some of the other risk factors, such as stopping smoking, eating a balanced diet, cutting down our alcohol intake and getting regular exercise.
We’re getting better at recognising and treating cancer, so today many people with cancer can be cured. Even if a cancer can’t be cured, it can often be controlled with treatment for months or years.
We have information on all the main types of cancer and on some of the rarer cancers.