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Lung cancer statistics

Most lung cancers develop in the airways that carry air in and out of your lungs, but they can also start in the lung tissue itself. Primary lung cancer starts in your lung. Secondary lung cancer starts in another part of your body and spreads to affect your lung.

These statistics on lung cancer in the UK were compiled as part of our Respiratory Health of the Nation project by teams at St George’s, University of London, Nottingham University and Imperial College London.

Numbers of people with lung cancer

How many people in the UK have been diagnosed with lung cancer?

85,000 people living in the UK have received a lung cancer diagnosis. This includes people living with the condition, those in remission and those who have been cured.

Lung cancer prevalence rates have risen 23% since 2004. The earlier part of this trend may have been affected by changes in the way data were collated and incentivised. But prevalence still increased by 10% between 2008 and 2012. Stable incidence and rising prevalence point to improving lung cancer survival rates.

 

Estimated numbers of people ever diagnosed with lung cancer 2004–12


How many people have lung cancer in each region of the UK?

In 2012, a higher proportion of people had lung cancer in the North East and North West of England, and in Scotland compared with the UK generally. The lowest figures were seen in the South West of England and the West Midlands. This pattern was consistent over the period 2004–12, as shown in the graph below.

Number of people per 100,000 ever diagnosed with lung cancer, by UK region, 2004–12


How many males and females have lung cancer in the UK?

In 2012, 143 males and 128 females for every 100,000 ever been diagnosed with lung cancer.

Throughout 2004–12, the proportion with a lung cancer diagnosis was always higher among males than females, although the gap narrowed over the decade.

Number of males and females ever diagnosed with lung cancer per 100,000, 2004–12


Ages of people with lung cancer

How old are the people diagnosed with lung cancer in the UK?

The chances of having a current or past diagnosis of lung cancer increase as people get older.

In 2012, only 6 people for every 100,000 had lung cancer among those aged 31–40, rising steadily through 23 per 100,000 among those aged 41–50, peaking at 631 per 100,000 among those aged 71–80, and 666 per 100,000 among those aged 81 and over.

This pattern was seen throughout the years 2004–12.

Number of people per 100,000 ever diagnosed with lung cancer, by age group, 2004–12


Lung cancer registrations

How many people were registered as new cases of lung cancer in the UK in 2011?

Cancer registration is the collection of population-based data on every new diagnosis of cancer (and mortality and survival from cancer) by a network of cancer registries across the UK. Data is collected on all patients whether they are treated in hospitals (acute, long stay, hospice or private) or by GPs. The Office for National Statistics collates the data to provide national figures annually.

According to the latest available cancer registration statistics, during 2011 there were 43,463 new cases of lung cancer in the UK, an incidence rate of 48.5 per 100,000 persons. This is similar to the rate of new diagnoses estimated from GP statistics for recent years. However, GP statistics may underestimate the true incidence of cancer, because the diagnosis may be made in hospital during terminal illness, or post-mortem.

During 2011, 23,770 men and 19,693 women were registered as new cases of lung cancer in the UK. These correspond to incidence rates of 58.2 per 100,000 for males and 40.8 per 100,000 for females.


How did rates of registration for lung cancer vary across the UK in 2011?

England: There were higher rates of registration in the North East, the North West and Yorkshire and the Humber compared with the UK generally, with more females registered in the North East. The rate for females was higher in these three regions than the rates for males. Registration rates were notably lower in the East of England, the South East and South West compared with the UK generally, with similar rates for males and females.

Scotland: The registration rate was considerably higher compared with the UK generally, with more females than males registered.

Wales: The registration rate was about the same compared with the UK generally, with rates similar for males and females.

Northern Ireland: The registration rate was about the same as that in the UK generally, with more males than females registered.

Lung cancer registration ratios, males and females, in each UK region, 2011

Relative risk of registration for lung cancer, by local authority district (England, Scotland and Wales), 2010

© Copyright info

Relative risk is used in medical research to compare risk in different groups of people.  In the maps we show the risk of an area (local authority district) relative to the average for Scotland, England and Wales. Here we show whether the group of people living in a particular area have a rate of registration for lung cancer that is lower or higher than the average. Because of the way relative risk is calculated there must always be some areas above average and some below average.

You can find out how these figures were calculated.


Deaths from lung cancer

How many people die from lung cancer in the UK compared to the rest of the world?

The age-adjusted mortality rate for lung cancer in the UK is the 11th highest in Europe.

Among the 99 countries for which WHO mortality data are available, the UK ranks 15th. The UK rate is lower than those in the United States, Canada and many European countries, including Hungary, Poland, the Netherlands, Belgium, Croatia, the Czech Republic, Serbia, Slovenia and Montenegro.

However, differences in data-recording techniques and health services make these data difficult to compare. It difficult to know how far they reflect actual rates or differences in diagnosis rates.

 

Number of people per million of population by country who died from lung cancer, 2001–10


How many males and females died from lung cancer in the UK in 2012?

In 2012, of the 35,419 deaths from lung cancer (6.2 per cent of the total number of deaths and 31 per cent of deaths from lung disease), 19,333 were males and 16,086 were females. The total number of deaths is up from 35,333 in 2008.

UK deaths from lung cancer compared with other lung diseases, 2012


How old were the people who died from lung cancer in the UK in 2012?

In 2012, of the 35,419 deaths from lung cancer:

  • 7,366 were among those aged 15–64; and
  • 28,053 were among those aged 65 and above.

How many people died from lung cancer in each UK region in 2008–12?

England: There were higher death rates from lung cancer in the North East and North West of England, and Yorkshire and the Humber than in the UK generally, with a greater relative increase among females than males. There were notably lower lung cancer mortality rates in the East of England and the South West than in the UK generally.

Scotland: The death rate was markedly higher than in the UK generally, with numbers higher among females than males.

Wales: The death rate was similar to that of the UK generally. More research is required to find out why Wales has a higher incidence but lower mortality rate than the north-west.

Northern Ireland: The death rate was similar to that of the UK generally, with numbers slightly higher among males than females.

Lung cancer mortality ratios by UK regions, males and females, 2008–12

Relative risk of death from lung cancer, by local authority district (England, Scotland and Wales), 2008–12

© Copyright info

Relative risk is used in medical research to compare risk in different groups of people.  In the maps we show the risk of an area (local authority district) relative to the average for Scotland, England and Wales. Here we show whether the group of people living in a particular area have a risk of dying from lung cancer that is lower or higher than the average. Because of the way relative risk is calculated there must always be some areas above average and some below average.

You can find out how these figures were calculated.


Standard of living and lung cancer

Does your standard of living affect your chances of having lung cancer in the UK?

Lung cancer incidence is over 80% higher in more deprived communities.

This is mostly due to higher rates of smoking. It is also likely to reflect greater occupational exposure to harmful dust, fibres and fumes.

Number of people per 100,000 ever diagnosed with lung cancer, by standard of living, 2004–12

Find out how the standard of living figures were calculated: Methodology - standard of living