By Andrew Deas, Information Services Division, NHS National Services Scotland
In 2016, 31,331 people were diagnosed with cancer in Scotland (16,084 women and 15,247 men). This was an increase from 28,048 people ten years previously. As discussed in the previous newsletter (volume 9, issue 3), these figures do not include non-melanoma skin cancer. There were 11,677 cases of non-melanoma skin cancer recorded by the Scottish Cancer Registry in 2016. Non-melanoma skin cancer is the most commonly diagnosed cancer in Scotland and the rest of the UK. However in order to be able to compare cancer statistics with other countries, non-melanoma skin cancer is excluded from statistics for “all cancers combined”.
The overall risk of cancer is higher in men than women. However, age-adjusted incidence rates of cancer have increased by 1.9% for women and decreased by 6.2% for men. This has reduced the gap in cancer risk between men and women over time. The age-adjusted incidence rates allow a fairer comparison to be made over time, but it is also informative to look at the number of people. The number of women diagnosed with cancer is higher than the number of men and both have increased over time. Over this timespan in women breast cancer incidence has increased by 2.9% and lung cancer by 2.4%. An increase in the number of older people in the population is one of the main explanations for the increasing number of people being diagnosed with cancer.
Figure 1 shows the most common twenty cancers in Scotland in 2016 by sex (excluding non-melanoma skin cancer). Lung cancer remains the most common cancer overall with 5,045 cases diagnosed in 2016. Breast and colorectal cancers are the next most c common overall with 4,636 and 3,700 cases respectively. For women, the most common are breast, lung and colorectal cancers, accounting for 55.5% of cancers in women. For men, the most common are prostate, lung and colorectal cancers, accounting for 49.9% of cancers in men.
Figure 1. Most common 20 cancers in Scotland in 2016 by sex (ordered by total for all persons)
There have been significant changes in the rates of cancer over the past decade. Figure 2 shows the change in age-adjusted rates for the most common twenty cancers by sex. For women, there has been little significant change in the rates of breast and lung cancers, while there has been a significant fall of 9% in the rate of colorectal cancers. Rates of thyroid, liver, kidney, uterine, cervical, head and neck, and pancreatic cancers have increased in women. For men, there has been little significant change in the rate of prostate cancers but falls of 18% in both lung and colorectal cancers over the past decade. Rates of thyroid, liver, kidney, malignant melanoma and pancreatic cancers have increased in men.
Figure 2. Ten year percentage change in incidence rate for the twenty most common cancers in Scotland
Further Information: All statistics are based on data from the Scottish Cancer Registry presented in the Cancer Incidence in Scotland (2016) publication.
Acknowledgement: Our publication uses data shared by patients and collected by the NHS as part of their care and support.