Cancer registration statistics, England: first release, 2015

Cancer diagnoses and age-standardised incidence rates for all cancer sites by age and sex.

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Email Neil Bannister and Jason Poole

Release date:
22 February 2017

Next release:
To be announced

1. Main points

The number of new cases of cancer in England continues to rise and in 2015 there were 299,923 cancers registered – an equivalent to 822 per day.

More cancers were registered in males (153,061) than females (146,862). Across the majority of cancer sites more males are diagnosed with cancer than females. This is a persistent feature of the data, reported in previous registration years.

The age-standardised incidence rates for newly diagnosed cancers were 667.4 per 100,000 males and 542.8 per 100,000 females. Age-standardised rates for newly registered cases of cancer were higher in males than females, which is a repeating trend of the data as outlined in previous cancer registration statistics.

Breast (15.4%), prostate (13.4%), lung (12.5%) and colorectal (11.6%) cancer continue to account for over half of the malignant cancer registrations in England for all ages combined.

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2. Collaboration

The cancer registration data in this publication were collected by the National Cancer Registration and Analysis Service (NCRAS) in Public Health England. This publication is produced in partnership with Public Health England.

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3. Things you need to know about this release

This is the first release of 2015 cancer registration data, publishing Table 1 and Table 2 of the statistical bulletin titled: Cancer Registration Statistics, England (Series MB1), which will be published in full in the summer of 2017. This release contains provisional data of cancer registration counts (Table 1) and incidence rates (Table 2) for males and females in England, broken down by 5-year age groups and by cancer type (site).

Following customer and stakeholder feedback, the first release of 2015 cancer registration statistics has been introduced to increase the timeliness of this data. There has been no compromise in statistical accuracy, as all cancer registrations have been confirmed and verified by the National Cancer Registration and Analysis Service in Public Health England. The production of the first release of 2015 cancer registration statistics followed the validation and processing steps used to quality assure the Cancer Registration Statistics, England (Series MB1) bulletin as outlined in Cancer Registration Statistics Quality and Methodology Information report1.

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4. 2015 cancer registrations

In England, 299,923 new cancer diagnoses were registered in 2015 with more cancers being registered in males (153,061) than females (146,862). The majority (93%) of cancer registrations are registered in 24 sites of the body. Just over half (53%) of registrations are breast, prostate, lung and colorectal cancer.

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5. Policy context

Cancer incidence (number of cancer cases registered) data allows policy makers to measure the extent of cancer within the population in England. Cancer incidence data is used alongside cancer prevalence, mortality and survival to allow policy makers to determine the burden of cancer in England.

Cancer incidence data directly helps to form policy on the prevention of cancer. It is also important in calculating cancer survival (in conjunction with mortality data), which is then used to determine a number of policy streams within government and also monitor a number of performance indicators for the English health care system. The indicators set for the NHS Outcomes Framework2 include 1- and 5-year cancer survival indicators for all cancers combined and separately for colorectal, breast and lung cancer. These survival estimates are calculated from the cancer incidence data.

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6. References

  1. Office for National Statistics, Cancer Registration Statistics Quality and Methodology Information, 2016, Office for National Statistics: Newport.

  2. Department of Health, NHS Outcomes Framework 2015 to 2016. 2014, Department of Health: London.

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7. Quality and methodology

The Cancer registration statistics Quality and Methodology Information (QMI) contains important information on:

  • the strengths and limitations of the data and how it compares with related data

  • uses and users of the data

  • how the output was created

  • the quality of the output including the accuracy of the data

  1. Cancer sites (types) were defined according to the International Classification of Diseases 10th Revision (ICD-10). When referring to an all cancer figure, we refer to all invasive malignant neoplasms (ICD-10 C00 to C97), excluding non-melanoma skin cancer (ICD-10 C44). Although non-melanoma skin cancer (NMSC) is very common, the available figures are known to be under-estimates and unreliable for comparison purposes. This is because the policies and practices for the recording of NMSC have varied among the cancer registries.

  2. The age-standardised rates in this release are expressed per 100,000 population and are standardised to the European Standard Population 2013 (ESP 2013). They are standardised to allow for more robust comparisons between males and females, years and geographical areas. Cancer incidence rates are based on the latest mid-year population estimates for the reference year at the time of publication.

  3. Cancer registrations in England are submitted to us by the National Cancer Registration and Analysis Service (NCRAS) in Public Health England. Data are submitted to the NCRAS from a range of health care providers and other services (for example, pathology laboratories). The NCRAS carefully collate and validate all the data for each patient, before sending a subset of the data, defined as the cancer registration minimum dataset, to our National Cancer Registry for further validation and processing.

  4. Although every measure has been taken to ensure the data quality of the first release, it may be subject to change when more extensive analysis is undertaken in the production of the full bulletin. Any change from the provisional data is likely to be small.

  5. In common with cancer registries in other countries, cancer registrations in England can take up to 5 years after the end of a given calendar year to reach 100% completeness, due to the continuing accrual of late registrations. The figure of 98% is an estimate of completeness based on the figures published for 3 previous years’ data (2012 to 2014), compared with the number of late registrations subsequently received for these years. It is therefore the difference between which figures have been published in all of our cancer incidence publications within a given reporting year, versus late registrations received after the publication date cut-off and updated in a subsequent year. It is not an estimate of how many cancers never get recorded.

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8. Background notes

  1. Further 2015 cancer statistics will be published later in 2017. The GOV.UK release calendar contains more detail on releases.

  2. Special extracts and tabulations of cancer data for England are available to order (subject to legal frameworks, disclosure control, resources and agreement of costs, where appropriate). Such enquiries should be made to:

    Cancer Analysis Team
    Health Analysis and Life Events Division
    Office for National Statistics
    Government Buildings
    Cardiff Road
    NP10 8XG
    Tel: +44 (0)1633 455704

    Our charging policy is available on our website.

As a valued user of our statistics, we would welcome feedback on this release. In particular, the content, format and structure. Please send feedback to the postal or email address above.

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9. Acknowledgements

The Cancer Analysis Team at the Office for National Statistics wishes to acknowledge the work of all the staff working in the National Cancer Registration and Analysis Service in Public Health England, which initially collected and quality assured the cancer data for these analyses. More information about the NCRAS is available on the Public Health England website.

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Contact details for this Statistical bulletin

Neil Bannister and Jason Poole
Telephone: +44 (0)1633 455704