Cancer Cases

Cancer incidence rate refers to the number of new cancer cases occurring in a specified population during a given year, expressed as the number of cancer cases per 100,000 population.1

The incidence of cancer in the UK has increased over the past two decades, with 603 in every 100,000 people in the UK being diagnosed with the condition in 2018, compared to 438 in 1995.

This is slightly higher than the European average of 589 per 100,000 people in 2018 (ranging from 386 cases per 100,000 people in Cyprus to 687 per 100,000 people in Hungary).




  • There is no information available on the incidence rate for EU28 in 1995 as some country level data for 1995 was not available
  • Incidence cases in 1995 were based on regional data in Germany (North Rhine-Westphalia, Saarland), France (Bas-Rhin, Calvados, Doubs, Haut- Rhin, Herault, Isere, Manche, Somme, Tarn), Italy (Ferrara, FVG, Latina, Liguria, Macerata, Modena, Parma, Ragusa, Romagna, Sassari, South Tyrol, Trento, Tuscany, Umbria, Varese), Spain (Balearic Islands, Basque Country, Girona, Granada, La Rioja, Navarra, Tarragona), and the UK (England, Northern Ireland, Scotland, Wales

Reference for text:

1. National Cancer Institute. Cancer Incidence Rates. 

References for graphs:


Cancer Deaths

Cancer mortality rate refers to the number of deaths attributed to cancer occurring in a specified population in a given year, expressed as the number of cancer deaths per 100,000 population. 2 

Whilst mortality due to cancer across Europe continues to increase, the UK is one of seven countries where overall cancer mortality has decreased since 1995, compared to 24 countries where mortality has increased.

The mortality rate in the UK has fallen from 273 deaths per 100,000 people in 1995 to 266 per 100,000 people in 2018.






Cancer Survival

Survival refers to percentage of people that were diagnosed with cancer in a given year and who were still alive after a defined period of time (here defined as 5 years or more after being diagnosed).3

In Europe, there have been continuous increases in 5-year survival rates for the most common cancer types in all countries. However, the size of the increase differs between countries.

Between 2010 and 2014, the UK ranked 17th amongst the 28 European countries studied for the 5 year survival post cancer diagnosis, with 63% of people surviving 5 years or more after receiving a cancer diagnosis (ranging from 50% survival in Bulgaria to 68% in Cyprus).



Spending on cancer

The economic burden of cancer can be measured in a number of ways including through the direct and indirect costs of cancer, percentage of overall healthcare budget spend on cancer and the cancer medicines budget.

Cost of cancer Medicines spend Healthcare budget







Spending on cancer medicines per person in 2018

According to the data collated by the IHE, Western European countries tend to spend more on cancer medicines than Eastern European countries.

The UK ranked 16th out of the 29 European countries examined, spending £44 per person on cancer medicines in 2018 (ranging from £5 per person in Greece to £98 per person in Austria).

It should be noted that the below sales data represents the list prices of medicines and does not take into account any rebates agreed with individual healthcare systems.




Direct and indirect costs of cancer per person in 2018

Direct costs of cancer include all the costs spent within the healthcare system, including screening, diagnostics, treatment and care. Indirect costs of cancer include resources lost due to inability to work because of the condition and premature death.

In 2018, the UK spent £159 per person per year in direct cost of cancer. This ranked 13th out of the 31 European countries analysed (ranging from £33 per person in Romania to £462 per person in Switzerland).    

In relation to indirect costs, the UK ranked 16th out of the 31 European countries the report analysed, with £109 lost per person in 2018 (ranging from £29 lost per person in Bulgaria to £259 lost per person in Denmark). 





  • There is no European average for spending on cancer medicines as there are no data available on spending on cancer medicines per person for Malta and Cyprus
  • Cost of cancer medicines per capita (in 2018 price levels and exchange rates)
  • Sales value as list price not taking into account any rebates agreed with individual healthcare systems

Reference for text and graphs:


Proportion of healthcare budget spent on cancer between 1995 and 2018

The proportion of healthcare budget allocated to cancer has remained stable in the UK, with the country spending 4.9% of its healthcare budget on cancer in 1995 and 5% in 2018.

Note: Manually select other countries from the list above to view their data in the chart.

Last modified: 20 September 2023

Last reviewed: 20 September 2023