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World cancer league table: UK has the 13th highest rate of the disease worldwide

The UK has the 13th highest proportion of cancer patients in the world, a global report has revealed.

Data from the World Health Organization shows 9.6 million people worldwide will die of cancer this year, with Western countries racking up the most diagnoses.

More people in Australia and New Zealand get cancer than in any other country, with the United States ranked fifth and the UK 13th.

Rates are lower in African and Asian countries but patients are more likely to die there because of poorer healthcare.

Globally, one in five men and one in six women will develop cancer at some point during their lifestyle, and it is expected to become the leading cause of death.

People have a better chance of survival in developed countries but there are more cases of the disease because of inactive and unhealthy modern lifestyles.

Experts say the new figures reveal an ‘alarming’ rise in the impact of cancer around the globe and show more needs to be done to tackle it.

Australia has the highest proportion of cancer cases out of any country in the world, according to a new ranking of 185 countries released by the International Agency for Research on Cancer, a body of the World Health Organization

Australia has the highest proportion of cancer cases out of any country in the world, according to a new ranking of 185 countries released by the International Agency for Research on Cancer, a body of the World Health Organization

The International Agency for Research on Cancer, part of the World Health Organization, this week ranked 185 countries by how many cases of cancer they have.

And the figures come as the global health watchdog predicts there will be 18 million new diagnoses of cancer in 2018 and 9.6 million people will die of it.

The cancer threat has risen by 28 per cent since the 14 million cases and eight million deaths predicted in 2012, when the IARC data was last updated.

All the 10 countries with the highest levels of the disease are in Australasia, Europe or North America, while the 10 lowest are in Africa and Asia. 

Some 468 people per 100,000 are expected to get cancer in Australia this year – approximately 112,000 people – which is the most of any country worldwide.

In New Zealand this figure is 438 per 100,000, in the US 352, and in Britain 319. 

The IARC calculates its figures by creating estimates based on countries’ most recent cancer data collected by hospitals. 

In the UK, prostate, breast and lung cancer are the most common, with lung cancer being the biggest killer.

Brits will see 446,942 new cases of cancer diagnosed in 2018, and 178,473 of those patients will die, the IARC predicts. 

Experts say that despite improving treatments and early diagnosis, cancer is still on the rise because people are living longer and making unhealthy life choices.

Eating unhealthy diets with processed foods, not exercising, drinking alcohol and smoking tobacco are all major – but avoidable – causes of cancer.


Ranked by estimated new cases per 100,000 people in 2018: 

  1. Australia (468)
  2. New Zealand (438.1)
  3. Ireland (373.7)
  4. Hungary (368.1)
  5. United States (352.2)
  6. Belgium (345.8)
  7. France (344.1)
  8. Denmark (340.4)
  9. Norway (337.8)
  10. The Netherlands (334.1) 

Source: World Health Organization 


Ranked by estimated new cases per 100,000 people in 2018: 

  1. The Gambia (57.2)
  2. Niger (72.6)
  3. Yemen (76.1)
  4. Republic of Congo (76.9)
  5. Timor-Leste (84.3)
  6. Tajikistan (87.3)
  7. Bhutan (87.8)
  8. Djibouti (87.9)
  9. Sri Lanka (88.1)
  10. Saudi Arabia (88.7) 

Source: World Health Organization 

‘These new figures highlight that much remains to be done to address the alarming rise in the cancer burden globally and that prevention has a key role to play,’ said IARC director Christopher Wild.

Experts said the increase could be partly because of growing populations and ageing, but people could do more to reduce their chance of getting sick.

Dr Etienne Krug, director of WHO’s department of non-communicable diseases said: ‘A lot of those [cancer cases] could be prevented, with key prevention efforts focusing on some of the main risk factors which we have heard about: tobacco consumption, alcohol consumption, lack of physical activity and improper diet.

And Dr Krug added treatment should be advanced enough to help people survive, saying: ‘For those who have cancer, cancer should not be a death sentence anymore.’

UN researchers said lung cancer kills the most people, followed by bowel cancer and breast cancer in women.  

The research agency’s report said nearly 44 million people in the world are alive five years after being diagnosed with cancer.  

And it calculated more than half of all cancer deaths will occur in Asia, home to 60 per cent of the world’s population. 

Europe accounts for about 23 per cent of cancer cases while the Americas accounts for 21 per cent. 

Africa has approximately 7 percent of the world’s cancer cases, but the continent’s death rate tends to be higher, mainly because cancers aren’t caught early or aren’t easily treatable given the limited health resources there.

In developed countries, prevention efforts are helping drive down the rates of various cancers, including those of the lung and cervix, while developing countries are increasingly affected by cancers typically linked to social and economic development, like colon cancer.

But since lung cancer often develops over decades, any decrease in the disease’s frequency from declining smoking rates likely won’t be seen for years. 

Dr. Freddie Bray, head of cancer surveillance at IARC, predicted there would be 29 million cases of cancer by 2040 and 16 million deaths.  

COUNTRIES OF THE WORLD RANKED BY CANCER RATE PER 100,000 PEOPLE (Source: World Health Organization) 
Country Estimated cancer cases per 100,000 people in 2018
Australia 468
New Zealand 438.1
Ireland 373.7
Hungary 368.1
United States of America 352.2
Belgium 345.8
France 344.1
Denmark 340.4
Norway 337.8
The Netherlands 334.1
Canada 334
France, New Caledonia 324.2
United Kingdom 319.2
Korea, Republic of 313.5
Germany 313.1
Switzerland 311
Luxembourg 309.3
Serbia 307.8
Slovenia 304.9
Latvia 302.2
Slovakia 297.5
Czech Republic 296.7
Sweden 294.7
Italy 290.6
Croatia 287.2
Lithuania 285.8
Estonia 283.3
Greece 279.8
Spain 272.3
Finland 266.3
Uruguay 263.4
Belarus 260.7
Portugal 259.5
Iceland 257.8
France, Guadeloupe 254.6
Puerto Rico 254.5
Republic of Moldova 254.3
Poland 253.8
Cyprus 250.8
France, Martinique 250.8
Malta 249.4
Singapore 248.9
Japan 248
Austria 247.7
Barbados 247.5
French Guyana 247
Bulgaria 242.8
Lebanon 242.8
French Polynesia 240.6
Israel 233.5
The former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia 230.8
Mongolia 229.2
Turkey 225.1
Romania 222.4
Russian Federation 222.1
Montenegro 221.9
Ukraine 220.9
Bosnia and Herzegovina 220.3
Brunei 220.2
Argentina 218
Brazil 217.2
Cuba 216.5
France, La Réunion 213.9
South Africa 213.5
Samoa 207.4
Jamaica 203.7
Papua New Guinea 202.4
China 201.7
Costa Rica 197.7
Zimbabwe 197.5
Chile 195.5
Armenia 194.8
Peru 192.6
Venezuela, Bolivarian Republic of 187.5
Bahamas 181.4
Colombia 178.8
Trinidad and Tobago 177.4
Guam 177.2
Kenya 175.5
Paraguay 175.5
Albania 173.9
Panama 173
Suriname 172.6
Kazakhstan 170.1
Syrian Arab Republic 169.9
Malawi 166.3
Fiji 164
Dominican Republic 163.9
Philippines 163.3
Korea, Democratic Republic of 161.7
Gaza Strip and West Bank 158.6
Thailand 158.2
Jordan 157.8
Saint Lucia 157.7
Ecuador 157.2
Egypt 156.9
Lao People’s Democratic Republic 154.3
Mauritius 153.2
Uganda 151.4
Viet Nam 151.4
Cabo Verde 149
Georgia 143.2
Bolivia, Plurinational State of 142.9
Mexico 142.7
Haiti 142.3
El Salvador 142.1
Burundi 141.9
Iran, Islamic Republic of 141.6
Nicaragua 141
Malaysia 139.9
Morocco 139.6
Rwanda 136.4
Indonesia 136.2
Zambia 136.2
Mali 135.5
Honduras 134.6
Belize 132.4
Tanzania, United Republic of 131.6
Mozambique 131
Myanmar 130.9
Algeria 130.8
Namibia 129.2
Kyrgyzstan 128.8
Guatemala 126.9
Benin 126.2
Ghana 125.5
Swaziland 125.1
Cambodia 124
Kuwait 121.8
Somalia 120.8
Libya 120.3
South Sudan 119.9
Senegal 118.7
Solomon Islands 118
Turkmenistan 117.8
Burkina Faso 117.7
Maldives 117
Lesotho 116.8
Tunisia 115.4
Madagascar 115.3
Pakistan 114
Sao Tome and Principe 113
United Arab Emirates 112.5
Gabon 111.2
Côte d’Ivoire 109.2
Cameroon 107.5
Angola 107
Congo, Democratic Republic of 106.6
Azerbaijan 106.2
Bangladesh 105.7
Iraq 105.5
Guyana 105.4
Bahrain 105.2
Togo 105
Liberia 104
Vanuatu 104
Nigeria 103.8
Nepal 103.7
Botswana 103.6
Oman 103.3
Equatorial Guinea 101.6
Sierra Leone 101
Guinea 100.5
Afghanistan 100.2
Comoros 99.8
Ethiopia 99.5
Mauritania 98.5
Eritrea 97.7
Qatar 97.3
Guinea-Bissau 97
Sudan 95.9
Chad 95.4
Central African Republic 92.4
Uzbekistan 91.4
India 89.4
Saudi Arabia 88.7
Sri Lanka 88.1
Djibouti 87.9
Bhutan 87.8
Tajikistan 87.3
Timor-Leste 84.3
Congo, Republic of 76.9
Yemen 76.1
Niger 72.6
The Gambia 57.2


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