The cancer population is all of the people who have received a cancer diagnosis at some point and are still alive. There were two million people in the UK cancer population in 2010 and 2.5 million in 2015. We estimate that there will be four million by 2030. See our Cancer Statistics pages and download our factsheet [PDF] for the headlines on the total number of people living with cancer (cancer prevalence).
This is a very large and diverse group of people. Some of them will have received their diagnosis yesterday and others will have been diagnosed and treated 20 or 30 years ago. Their individual needs and experiences of cancer vary enormously and can change over time.
Cancer prevalence is another way of describing the cancer population. Prevalence is the technical term for the number of people with a particular disease in a specific population at a specific time. It can be expressed as a number or a rate (per head of population).
Incidence is the number or rate (per head of population) of new cases of a particular disease diagnosed in a specific population over a specific period. Cancer incidence figures do not include secondary cancers (metastases) or recurrences.