- Worldwide cancer data
- Global cancer incidence: both sexes
- Global cancer incidence in men
- Global cancer incidence in women
- Common Cancer Types
- What is cancer?
- Prostate overtakes breast as ‘most common cancer’
- ‘Fry and Turnbull effect’
- What is prostate cancer?
Worldwide cancer data
Find information about world cancer statistics for the most common cancers (excluding non-melanoma skin cancer) in 2018, the latest year available.
There were an estimated 18 million cancer cases around the world in 2018, of these 9.5 million cases were in men and 8.5 million in women. The most common cancers globally are listed in the table below.
With this growing global burden, prevention of cancer is one of the most significant public health challenges of the 21st century. Our Cancer Prevention Recommendations work together as an overall way of living healthily to prevent cancer through changing dietary patterns, reducing alcohol consumption, increasing physical activity and achieving and maintaining a healthy body weight – read our blog here.
As well as action by individuals, achieving healthy patterns of diet and sustained physical activity over the life course requires concerted and integrated action from all sectors of society, including civil society, private sector, and health and other professions. Read more about policy action for cancer prevention here.
Global cancer incidence: both sexes
- Lung and breast cancers were the most common cancers worldwide, each contributing 12.3% of the total number of new cases diagnosed in 2018.
- Colorectal cancer was the third most common cancer with 1.8 million new cases in 2018.
Global cancer incidence in men
- Lung cancer was the most common cancer in men worldwide, contributing 15.5% of the total number of new cases diagnosed in 2018.
- The top three – lung, prostate and colorectal cancers – contributed 44.4% of all cancers (excluding non-melanoma skin cancer).
- Other common cancers contributing more than 5% were stomach and liver.
Global cancer incidence in women
- Breast cancer was the most common cancer in women worldwide, contributing 25.4% of the total number of new cases diagnosed in 2018.
- The top three – breast, colorectal and lung cancers – contributed 43.9% of all cancers (excluding non-melanoma skin cancer).
- Cervical cancer was the fourth most common cancer in women, contributing 6.9% of the total number of new cases diagnosed in 2018.
Common Cancer Types
This list of common cancer types includes cancers that are diagnosed with the greatest frequency in the United States, excluding nonmelanoma skin cancers:
Cancer incidence and mortality statistics reported by the American Cancer Society1 and other resources were used to create the list. To qualify as a common cancer for the list, the estimated annual incidence for 2019 had to be 40,000 cases or more.
The most common type of cancer on the list is breast cancer, with 271,270 new cases expected in the United States in 2019. The next most common cancers are lung cancer and prostate cancer.
Because colon and rectal cancers are often referred to as “colorectal cancers,” these two cancer types are combined for the list. For 2019, the estimated number of new cases of colon cancer and rectal cancer are 101,420 and 44,180, respectively, adding to a total of 145,600 new cases of colorectal cancer.
The following table gives the estimated numbers of new cases and deaths for each common cancer type:
|Cancer Type||Estimated New Cases||Estimated Deaths|
|Breast (Female – Male)||268,600 – 2,670||41,760 – 500|
|Colon and Rectal (Combined)||145,600||51,020|
|Kidney (Renal Cell and Renal Pelvis) Cancer||73,820||14,770|
|Leukemia (All Types)||61,780||22,840|
|Liver and Intrahepatic Bile Duct||42,030||31,780|
|Lung (Including Bronchus)||228,150||142,670|
- American Cancer Society: Cancer Facts and Figures 2019. Atlanta, Ga: American Cancer Society, 2019. Also available online. Last accessed February 5, 2019.
Information about cancer risk can help you make informed decisions about screening and prevention strategies. As we recognize National Men’s Health Week, learn about the most common cancers in men in the United States and the options for prevention and treatment.
1. Prostate cancer
There will be an estimated 180,890 new cases in the U.S. in 2016.
One in six men will be diagnosed with prostate cancer in his lifetime. Doctors can screen for early signs of prostate cancer with prostate-specific antigen testing, which can detect elevated levels of a protein in the blood that may indicate prostate cancer. There are benefits and drawbacks to PSA testing; it can help detect and treat cancer at an early stage, but it is not always accurate. False readings can lead to unnecessary treatments, including biopsies that can increase the risk of impotence and incontinence.
Dana-Farber experts recommend:
- Age 18-40: Screening is usually not required.
- Age 40-49: You should discuss your risk level with your physician. Screening is recommended if you are considered high risk. African-American men and men who have a family history of prostate cancer are at a greater risk and should discuss PSA testing with their physicians.
- Age 50+: Discuss screening with your physician.
The best protection against prostate cancer is a healthy lifestyle. Follow this game plan for preventing, screening, and treating prostate cancer.
2. Lung and bronchus cancer
There will be an estimated 117,920 new cases in men in the U.S. in 2016.
Both smokers and non-smokers are at risk for lung cancer. Talk to your physician about screening and prevention if you experience symptoms of chest discomfort, difficulty breathing, hoarseness, bloody mucus, and a lingering cough.
Smoking is the number one risk factor for lung cancer. You can call the Smoker’s Helpline (1-800-QUIT-NOW) to learn about programs to help you quit smoking, or you can discuss how to quit with your physician. The U.S. Preventative Services Task Force recommends annual lung cancer screenings for current smokers, those who have quit smoking within the last 15 years, and those ages 55-80 who have smoked a pack a day for 30 years. Screenings consist of a low-dose CT scan.
To further reduce the risk of lung cancer, maintain a healthy diet and avoid secondhand smoke and exposure to carcinogens such as radon, asbestos, and soot. Radon exposure is the main cause of lung cancer in non-smokers and can be detected inexpensively with an in-home testing kit.
3. Colon and rectal cancer
There will be an estimated 70,820 new cases in men in the U.S. in 2016.
Colorectal cancer is a common but preventable disease. Risk factors for colorectal cancer include age, a history of polyps, having inflammatory bowel disease (IBD), a family history of colorectal cancer, physical inactivity, obesity, and frequent consumption of red meat and processed meats. Studies show that a daily dose of aspirin may reduce the risk of colorectal cancer by up to 40 percent. Consult your physician before beginning an aspirin regimen.
When it is detected early, this disease is one of the most treatable forms of cancer, so it’s important to follow screening guidelines. Dana-Farber experts recommend the following guidelines:
- Age 18-39: It is not necessary to have a screening unless you have IBD, a family history of colorectal cancer, or a hereditary condition like Lynch syndrome. Speak with your doctor about the pros and cons of screening and whether it’s right for you.
- Age 40-49: Review your risks with your doctor. You may need to begin screening if you have an increased risk of colorectal cancer or if you’ve previously had polyps.
- Age 50+: Everyone should be screened. Talk to your doctor about the options, including colonoscopies, sigmoidoscopies, and annual stool occult blood tests.
4. Urinary bladder cancer
There will be an estimated 58,950 new cases in men in the U.S. in 2016.
Blood in the urine, changes in bladder habits, or inability to urinate may be signs of bladder cancer, or signs of a less serious bladder problem.
According to the American Cancer Society, you may be able to reduce the risk of urinary bladder cancer by drinking lots of water, eating fruits and vegetables, quitting smoking, and limiting exposure to certain organic chemicals found in workplaces in the textile, paint, rubber, and leather industries.
A urinalysis, which tests for blood in the urine, can be used to detect bladder cancers early but may not be useful as a routine screening test. Urine cytology may be able to detect cancer cells in urine.
There will be an estimated 46,870 new cases in men in the U.S. in 2016.
Risk factors for melanoma include fair skin, a history of blistering sunburns, several large or many small moles, and a family history of unusual moles.
To detect melanoma as early as possible, check your skin once a month in front of a mirror in a well-lit room. Make note of any changes in patterns of moles, blemishes, and freckles over time, and use the “ABCDE rule” to help determine whether your physician should look at a mole.
- Asymmetry. One half of the mole looks different than the other.
- Border irregularity. The mole has blurry or jagged borders.
- Color. The mole does not have a consistent color and may have shades of brown, black, pink, white, red, or blue.
- Diameter. The mole’s diameter is greater than six millimeters (roughly the size of a pencil eraser).
- Evolving. The mole changes in size, shape, or color.
Statistics and additional prevention information provided by the American Cancer Society
Cancer is the second deadliest disease in America, behind heart disease—but the term “cancer” actually lumps over 100 diseases into one. All cancers have a lot in common: Mutations make cells change and grow out of control, and are often caused by some combination of genetic and environmental factors. Most people differentiate types of cancer by where they appear in the body, such as breast cancer or prostate cancer.
But there’s another way to group types of cancer: Not just by where they appear, but what kind of cells they attack. This breaks the disease into several common types of cancer: Carcinoma, sarcoma, melanoma, lymphoma, and leukemia. Learning how cancer works can give you a better understanding of the disease—that’s important because cancer will strike one in three people.
“This is a type of cancer that starts in the cells that make up the skin or the tissues that line organs—these are the most common cancers,” says oncologist Larry Norton, MD, of Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center. Carcinomas account for 80 to 90 percent of cancers, according to the National Cancer Institute. “Examples are breast cancer, lung cancer, prostate cancer, and kidney cancer,” Dr. Norton says. People often get carcinomas in organs or glands: You might have heard “carcinoma” used with renal cell carcinoma (kidney cancer), papillary carcinoma (thyroid cancer), or invasive ductal carcinoma (breast cancer).
Although all of these cancers are different, they have similarities: “Certain factors significantly increase one’s risk of getting cancer: Tobacco use is the most common cause, but obesity is not far behind,” Dr. Norton says. Here are 37 lifestyle changes you can make to reduce your risk of cancer.
One undeniable—and unavoidable—risk is simply getting older, and because carcinomas are the most common type of cancer, they’re also responsible for the most cancer deaths. While the symptoms will be different depending on where the cancer turns up, carcinomas do form solid tumors and you might first notice one as a lump. Basal cell carcinoma and squamous cell carcinoma of the skin look like strange red patches, bumps, sores, or growths on the skin. “Symptoms depend on the organ that is involved and the stage of the disease; early on, most cancers do not cause symptoms,” Dr. Norton says. “This is why screening is often important.”
Today, there are more cancer treatments than ever before, says Dr. Norton, but they have to be tailored for each patient. The major treatments include surgery to remove the tumor, radiation therapy to kill cancer cells, drug therapies—including chemotherapy—that kill rapidly dividing cells, and targeted therapies that can kill cancers with certain mutations, hormonal drugs (particularly useful with breast cancer), and immunotherapy, which unleashes the body’s own ability to identify and kill cancer cells.
This is less common than carcinoma and other types of cancer. “Sarcoma starts in the cells that make up the connective tissues, under or between the tissues that line organs,” Dr. Norton says. “Examples are cancers of the fat, muscle, and blood vessels.” Sarcomas are broken down into two main groups: bone sarcoma and soft-tissue sarcoma.
Unfortunately, osteosarcoma, the most common type of bone sarcoma, most often occurs in children and teens. Because it targets young people, researchers don’t believe lifestyle factors influence risk; rather, the cancer may be spurred by the rapid growth children experience. People who have had certain bone conditions or syndromes—or who’ve undergone radiation treatment—might also be at greater risk. Osteosarcoma affects males slightly more, and it’s a bit more common in African-Americans and Latinos than whites. One of the most common symptoms of osteosarcoma is pain in a limb, but because kids often get bumps and bruises, doctors can miss the diagnosis. Learn more about surprising symptoms that turn out to be cancer.
There are more than 50 types of soft-tissue sarcoma; some are more common in children, others hit adults more often. The sarcomas can start in the arm or leg, but may also affect the trunk, head, or the back of the abdomen. Doctors don’t know what the risk factors are for these diseases—lifestyle doesn’t seem to play a role. Having been treated with radiation or testing positive for certain genetic syndromes may pose a risk, but there’s nothing you can really do to prevent this disease. The symptoms will vary depending on where a tumor turns up, but they can include a lump on the affected limb, abdominal pain, black or bloody stool, or trouble breathing.
As with other cancers, treatments for sarcomas include surgery, radiation, and chemotherapy; recent research has shown promise for certain immunotherapies for sarcomas as well.
Melanoma is one of the easier types of cancer to spot, as it usually only shows up on your skin. “Melanoma is a type of cancer that starts in skin cells that contain pigment,” Dr. Norton says. “This is why they are often dark or black.” This is the deadliest type of skin cancer: Although it’s rarer than basal cell or squamous cell carcinoma of the skin, melanoma is more likely to grow and spread. It’s also responsible for the most skin cancer deaths.
According to the American Cancer Society, most cases of melanoma could be preventable. “Excessive sun exposure is the biggest risk factor for melanoma,” Dr. Norton says. In other words, avoid tanning beds, cover up when you’re outdoors, and wear your sunscreen—these are the best types of sunscreen. Caucasian people tend to get melanoma more often due to their light skin, which is more susceptible to the sun’s damaging UV rays. Although melanoma is more likely in older people, it’s still one of the most common cancers in the under-30 crowd. Before age 50, melanoma is more common in women, but by age 65, twice as many men get melanoma compared to women; by age 80 men have triple the rate of women. Overall, melanoma is the sixth most common cancer.
Surgery alone can cure melanoma if doctors catch it early. Among the 51 things dermatologists need you to know about skin cancer, perhaps most important is checking yourself regularly using the ABCDEs: Look for moles that are asymmetrical, have an irregular border, contain different colors, are larger in diameter than a pencil eraser, and evolve in size, shape, or color. If you notice anything strange, make an appointment with a dermatologist. If melanoma has spread, treatment may also require chemo, radiation, or targeted therapies.
The last two types of cancers both involve the blood. “Lymphoma and leukemia are types of cancers that start in white blood cells,” Dr. Norton says. Lymphoma attacks lymphocytes, a type of white blood cell that fights infections. They’re part of the lymphatic system, which includes lymph nodes and the spleen.
Unlike leukemia, “lymphomas form solid masses,” Dr. Norton says. Lymphoma is divided into two main types: Hodgkin’s lymphoma and non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma. Hodgkin’s is much less common and it’s characterized by the presence of certain abnormal cells called Reed-Sternberg cells. It can occur in both children and adults but is most common in young adults between 15 and 35 years old, as well as older adults. It’s also the most common cancer in teens between the ages of 15 and 19. The main risk factors—altered immune function due to autoimmune disorders, certain infections, and immune suppressant medications (taken after organ transplants)—can’t really be prevented.
Non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma, one of the most common types of cancer in the United States, most often happens in older adults, although children can get it, too. Obesity may play a part in some cases, but its main risk factors are similar to Hodgkin’s. Symptoms for both types include swollen lymph nodes in the neck, groin, or armpit, fever, fatigue, and loss of appetite—it may feel like you have a cold that doesn’t go away. Lymphoma is also one of the unexpected explanations for night sweats. Surgery is not usually an option—treatments include chemo, radiation, stem cell transplants, immunotherapy, or other targeted therapy.
Because leukemia doesn’t form solid tumors, it’s considered a “liquid” cancer. “Leukemias involve the bone marrow and also float freely in the blood,” Dr. Norton says. Leukemia sub-types affect different types of blood cells. Although most cases are in adults, leukemias are also the most common types of cancer that children get: About 30 percent of childhood cancers are leukemia. Smoking is a risk factor in adults—there is some evidence that parental smoking before and after birth may increase the risk in children. Obesity may also be a risk for some leukemias; radiation and exposure to certain chemicals may also increase risk. But usually, there’s not much you can do to prevent leukemia.
Symptoms may include fatigue, pale skin, weight loss, fever, bruising or bleeding easily, bone pain, and infections. As with lymphoma, chemo, radiation, stem cell transplant, and targeted therapies may be used for treatment. In a recent breakthrough, researchers have found that CAR T-cell therapy is particularly effective for certain difficult-to-treat leukemias. Read about this and other groundbreaking cancer discoveries.
What is cancer?
Cancer starts in our cells. Cells are tiny building blocks that make up the body’s organs and tissues. Cells receive signals from the body, telling them when to grow and when to divide to make new cells. This is how our bodies grow and heal. These cells can become old, damaged or no longer needed. When this happens, the cell gets a signal from the body to stop working and die.
Sometimes these signals can go wrong, and the cell becomes abnormal. The abnormal cell may keep dividing to make more and more abnormal cells. These can form a lump, called a tumour.
Not all tumours are cancer. Doctors can tell if a tumour is cancer by taking a small sample of cells from it. This is called a biopsy. The doctors examine the sample under a microscope to look for cancer cells.
A tumour that is not cancer (a benign tumour) may grow, but it cannot spread to anywhere else in the body. It usually only causes problems if it grows and presses on nearby organs.
A tumour that is cancer (a malignant tumour) can grow into nearby tissue.
Sometimes cancer cells spread from where the cancer started (the primary site) to other parts of the body. They can travel around the body in the blood or through lymph fluid which is part of the lymphatic system. When these cancer cells reach another part of the body, they may grow and form another tumour. This is called a secondary cancer or a metastasis.
Some types of cancer start from blood cells. Abnormal cells can build up in the blood, and sometimes the bone marrow. This is where blood cells are made. These types of cancer are sometimes called blood cancers.
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Facts and figures
ON THIS PAGE: You will find information about the number of people who are diagnosed with prostate cancer each year. You will also read general information on surviving the disease. Remember, survival rates depend on several factors. Use the menu to see other pages.
Prostate cancer is the most common cancer among men, except for skin cancer. This year, an estimated 174,650 men in the United States will be diagnosed with prostate cancer. Around 60% of cases are diagnosed in men over 65. The average age of diagnosis is 66 years. The disease rarely occurs before age 40.
Most prostate cancers (90%) are found when the disease is in only the prostate and nearby organs. This is referred to as the local or regional stage.
The 5-year survival rate tells you what percent of men live at least 5 years after the cancer is found. Percent means how many out of 100. The 5-year survival rate for most men with local or regional prostate cancer is nearly 100%. For men diagnosed with prostate cancer that has spread to other parts of the body, the 5-year survival rate is 30%.
Prostate cancer is the second leading cause of cancer death in men in the United States. It is estimated that 31,620 deaths from this disease will occur this year. However, the death rate has dropped by more than half from 1993 to 2016. A man’s individual survival depends on the type of prostate cancer and the stage of the disease. There are almost 3 million survivors of prostate cancer in the United States today.
It is important to remember that statistics on the survival rates for men with prostate cancer are an estimate. The estimate comes from annual data based on the number of men with this cancer in the United States. Also, experts measure the survival statistics every 5 years. So the estimate may not show the results of better diagnosis or treatment available for less than 5 years. Talk with your doctor if you have any questions about this information. Learn more about understanding statistics.
Statistics adapted from the American Cancer Society’s (ACS) publication, Cancer Facts and Figures 2019, and the ACS website (January 2019).
The next section in this guide is Medical Illustrations. It offers drawings of body parts often affected by prostate cancer. Use the menu to choose a different section to read in this guide.
Prostate overtakes breast as ‘most common cancer’
Image copyright Prostate Cancer UK
Prostate cancer is now the most commonly diagnosed cancer in England, overtaking breast cancer for the first time, latest figures show.
In 2018 there were nearly 50,000 registered cases – around 8,000 more than in 2017.
Public Health England says it is because more men are getting tested.
And that is thanks to celebrities, like Stephen Fry and Bill Turnbull, raising awareness by speaking out about their own experiences.
‘Fry and Turnbull effect’
In 2018, there were 316,680 cancers of any kind diagnosed, the equivalent of 868 cases a day.
Prostate was the most common type – 49,029 cases – followed by breast – 47,476 cases.
Lung and bowel cancers were the next most commonly diagnosed.
- Rod Stewart ‘in the clear’ after cancer diagnosis
- Stephen Fry recovering from cancer op
- ‘Fry and Turnbull’ prostate cancer effect
Former BBC Breakfast presenter Bill Turnbull went public with his prostate cancer diagnosis in March 2018, encouraging others to get tested, saying: “Maybe if I’d got it earlier and stopped it at the prostate, I’d be in a much better state.”
He said his cancer had spread to his bones, including the pelvis and ribs.
TV comedian and presenter Stephen Fry revealed in February 2018 that he was recovering after having prostate cancer surgery, saying it was “thankfully caught in the nick of time”.
According to the head of the NHS, the coverage of Fry and Turnbull’s treatments led to an increase in men getting checked.
Cancer tsar Prof Peter Johnson said: “As people live longer, we’re likely to see prostate cancer diagnosed more often, and with well-known figures like Rod Stewart, Stephen Fry and Bill Turnbull all talking openly about their diagnosis, more people will be aware of the risk.”
He said more people coming forward for checks and care meant the disease increasingly is detected at an early stage, when treatment is most successful and survival chances are highest.
Lucy Elliss-Brookes, Head of Cancer Analysis at Public Health England, said: “Although we are seeing a continued rise in cancer diagnoses, it’s encouraging that we are also seeing increases in survival, as well as an overall decrease in emergency diagnoses of cancer.”
Lynda Thomas, Chief Executive of Macmillan Cancer Support, said it was good news that more people are seeing their doctor to check for cancer.
But she said the increasing numbers came at a time when the NHS and social care services were under pressure, with long waiting times for cancer diagnosis and treatment.
What is prostate cancer?
- It is the most common cancer in men in the UK – an ageing population means more men are developing and dying from the disease
- It involves the prostate – a small gland in the pelvis in men
- Cancers can develop slowly over years and many men have no symptoms
- Noticeable symptoms include needing to urinate more often and weak flow
- There is no single test for prostate cancer – a blood test, biopsies and physical examinations are all used
Media playback is unsupported on your device Media captionWe explain what warning signs to look out for