Cancer statistics

We draw on the best sources of data and generate our own insights to understand more about people living with and affected by cancer in the UK.

People living with cancer

There are an estimated 2.5 million people in the UK today (2015) who have had a cancer diagnosis.1 This is an increase of almost half a million in the previous five years.2 We have illustrated this further in the infographic, Cancer: A colossal challenge – the 2.5 million. Also available in a text-only version.

The 2.5 million
The 2.5 million

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Worryingly, around one in four (25%) people in the UK already face poor health or disability after receiving treatment for cancer.3 If this number continues to rise by over 3% a year, this could see four million people living with cancer by 2030.4

The proportion of people living longer after cancer is increasing, and the number of people alive five or more years from initial diagnosis is predicted to more than double to 2.7 million between 2010 and 2030.4 By the end of 2016, we know that more than a thousand people in the UK will be diagnosed with cancer everyday.5


Changes over time

The number of older people (aged 65 and over) living with cancer has grown by 300,000 (or 23%) in the five years to 2015.3

The number of people who have survived five or more years since diagnosis has increased by over 260,000 (or 21%) in the five years to 2015.3

The number of people living with cancer in the UK is increasing by 3.2% every year.4

The number of cancer survivors in the UK is projected to increase by approximately one million per decade from 2010 to 2040. This will result in four million people living with cancer in 2030.4

For more information see The Changing story of cancer infographic.


Older people

The number of older people (aged 65 and over) living with cancer is set to treble between 2010 and 2040.4

More than three times as many older people (aged 65 and over) will be living with cancer by 2040 – 1.3 million in 2010 to 4.1 million in 2040.4

The number of older people currently (2015) living with cancer has already increased by 300,000 since 2010.3

By 2040 older people will account for 77% of all people living with a cancer diagnosis, an increase from the 2015 figure of 66%.4

For additional statistics on older people living with cancer please refer to the ‘Prevalence of older people living with cancer'.


New cases of cancer

Our short term predictions have shown that more than a thousand people will be diagnosed with cancer everyday in the UK by the end of 2016.5

In 1996, 263,000 people were diagnosed with cancer and by 2016 this is predicted to grow to a staggering 361,000, equivalent to the entire population of Cardiff being diagnosed each year.5

Of the 1,000 people diagnosed with cancer a day by the end of 2016 in the UK, around 830 people will be in England, 90 in Scotland, 50 in Wales and 30 in Northern Ireland.5

See our full infographic, Cancer: A colossal challenge – 1,000 a day [PDF].


Patient experience

Our analysis of the 2014 patient experience survey found that eight of London’s NHS Trusts are at the bottom of a league table [PDF] measuring cancer patient experience across England.6

Macmillan is the expert on the needs, numbers and experiences of people with cancer. For more information on our patient experience and Cancer Patient Experience Survey work, please see our Understanding the cancer population page.


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References and notes

  1. Maddams J, Utley M, Møller H. Projections of cancer prevalence in the United Kingdom, 2010-2040. Br J Cancer 2012; 107: 1195-1202. (Projections scenario 1). Macmillan analysis based on extrapola-tion of 2010 and 2020 projections that the number of people living with cancer will hit an estimated 2.5 million in 2015.
  2. ‘Five years’ refers to 2010-2015.
  3. Macmillan Cancer Support (2013) Throwing light on the consequences of cancer and its treatment [PDF].
  4. Maddams J, Utley M, Møller H. Projections of cancer prevalence in the United Kingdom, 2010-2040. Br J Cancer 2012; 107: 1195-1202. (Projections scenario 1).
  5. Macmillan Cancer Support estimates. 2014. A thousand people a day diagnosed with cancer by end of 2016. Incidence predictions are based on the assumption that age specific all cancer incidence rates remain constant at 2012 rates. Predictions based on applying the UK 2012 incidence rates for 5 year age groups to 2012-based population projections from the Office for National Statistics. Latest incidence figures for each nations taken from Office of National Statistics, |ISD Scotland, Welsh Cancer Intelligence and Surveillance Unit and from personal communication with the Northern Ireland Cancer Registry (May 2014). For full details refer to the press release.
  6. Analysis by Macmillan Cancer Support based on NHS England’s National Cancer Patient Experience Survey 2014 [PDF], run by Quality Health.
  7. Macmillan Cancer Support/Ipsos MORI. More than a Million: Understanding the UK’s carers of people with cancer [PDF]. 2011.