Skip to content

Video Summary: Cancer in England, 2009

Released: 02 November 2011

This is a podcast from the Office for National Statistics describing the official National Statistics about cancer in England. Information on the other parts of the UK are the responsibility of the devolved administrations.

If you would like a transcript of this podcast, email, putting “cancer podcast” in the heading of your email.

First we’ll look at the frequency of cancer diagnosis. In the UK, more than one in three people will develop some form of cancer during their lifetime. More than half of all cancers are diagnosed after the age of 65.

In England, around 250,000 people are diagnosed with cancer every year. The number is increasing, mainly because the population is getting older.

And for every four people in England, cancer will be the underlying cause of at least 1 death.

Within ONS, a dedicated team of people collect and check the quality of cancer registrations sent in by the eight regional cancer registries in England.

Cancer registrations are combined with death registrations and the resulting figures are used as the basis for ONS statistics on cancer incidence and survival. These official statistics are published regularly on the ONS web-site.

There are many different types of cancers which you can see here, however, breast, lung, prostate and colorectal cancers are the most common. These four cancers alone accounted for more than half of all new cancers registered in 2009.

In 2009, for every 100,000 people around 420 males and 370 females in England were diagnosed with some form of cancer. This is shown by the very marginal slice of the pie charts here and there has been very little change since 1999.

For males diagnosed with cancer in 2009, around 26 per cent were prostate cancer, an increase of almost 6 percentage points since 1999.

Almost 14 per cent of male cancer diagnoses were for lung cancer. Diagnoses of this cancer have fallen from 20 per cent in 1999.

Similar to lung cancer, almost 14 per cent of cancers in males diagnosed in 2009 were for colorectal cancer, however this rate has remained largely unchanged since 1999.

For females diagnosed with cancer in 2009, around 31 per cent were diagnosed with Breast cancer.

Around 11 per cent of all cancers diagnosed in females were lung cancer and also colorectal cancer. For these cancers rates have remained largely unchanged since 1999.

We have already shown that breast cancer is the most common cancer detected in women, accounting for around 31 per cent of all cancers.

In 2010 just over 9,600 women died from breast cancer in England, making it the second most common cause of cancer-related death after lung cancer.

Age appears to be amongst the greatest risk factors for breast cancer – with four out of every five cases diagnosed in women aged 50 years and above.

The breast cancer screening program introduced in England in 1988 is designed to reduce the number of women dying from breast cancer.

In 2009-10 some 2.24 million women between the ages of 50 and 70 years were invited for screening and 1.64 million attended. Of these women, more than 12 thousand cases of breast cancer, or 7.7 cases per thousand screened women, were diagnosed.

Thanks in part to this programme, earlier detection rates along with improved treatments mean that survival rates following a diagnosis of breast cancer are amongst the highest of all cancers.

Survival following a cancer diagnosis varies dramatically according to the type of cancer.

Survival at one year and five years after diagnosis is calculated in collaboration with the Cancer Survival Group at the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine. Let’s examine cancer survival for the five-year diagnosis period ending in 2008. The figures are for relative survival, which means survival from the cancer after adjusting for other causes of death:

The blue bar here represents 100 per cent survival over five years. Now for men diagnosed with testicular cancer, more than 97 per cent will survive for at least five years.

For those with prostate cancer, around 81 per cent of men will survive for five years.

There are some cancers where there is very little survival over five years, and following a diagnosis of lung cancer, only around 8 per cent of men survive the five years…and only 4 per cent will survive for five years following diagnosis of pancreatic cancer.

Now, looking at cancer survival for women, again with the blue bar here representing 100 per cent survival over five years.

Following a diagnosis of breast cancer, more than 84 per cent will survive for at least five years …as will more than three-quarters of all women diagnosed with cancer of the uterus.

However, less than 9 per cent of women will survive for five years if they are diagnosed with lung cancer….and only about 3 per cent of women will survive for five years following a diagnosis of cancer of the pancreas.

Updated figures on 5-year relative survival for 21 common cancers in men and women are published annually by the ONS. Recent trends suggest that survival is improving for most cancers. To learn more about cancer statistics from the ONS, and for the latest data, please visit the ONS website.

For further information regarding this podcast please e-mail

This short video podcast using audio commentary and graphical animations shows:

  • Total cancer incidence in England, for 2009.

  • The most common cancers diagnosed in males and female in England, for 2009.

  • Five-year relative survival for males and females, diagnosed up to 2008.

Source: Office for National Statistics

Background notes

  1. Details of the policy governing the release of new data are available by visiting or from the Media Relations Office email:

Content from the Office for National Statistics.
© Crown Copyright applies unless otherwise stated.