The Top 5 Most Frequent Cancers Worldwide

  Cancer Type Incidence Rate
(per 100,000 persons)
% of Total
1 Lung cancer 1,608,823 23 per 100,000 12.7%
2 Breast cancer 1,383,523 39.0 per 100,000 10.9%
3 Colorectum cancer 1,233,711 17.3 per 100,000 9.7%
4 Stomach cancer 989,598 14.1 per 100,000 7.8%
5 Prostate cancer 903,4542 28.1 per 100,000 7.1%
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 Special Report
  1. Lung cancer has been the most common cancer in the world for several decades, and by 2008, there were an estimated 1.61 million new cases, representing 12.7% of all new cancers. It was also the most common cause of death from cancer, with 1.38 million deaths (18.2% of the total). The majority of the cases now occur in the developing countries (55%). Lung cancer is still the most common cancer in men worldwide (1.1 million cases, 16.5% of the total), with high rates in Central-Eastern and Southern Europe, Northern America and Eastern Asia. Very low rates are still estimated in Middle and Western Africa. According to the United States Environmental Protection Agency; smoking, radon, and secondhand smoke are the leading causes of lung cancer. Smoking causes an estimated 160,000 cancer deaths in the U.S. every year. And the rate among women is rising. On January 11, 1964, Dr. Luther L. Terry, then U.S. Surgeon General, issued the first warning on the link between smoking and lung cancer. Lung cancer now surpasses breast cancer as the number one cause of death among women. Radon is the number one cause of lung cancer among non-smokers, according to EPA estimates. Overall, radon is the second leading cause of lung cancer. Radon is responsible for about 21,000 lung cancer deaths every year. About 2,900 of these deaths occur among people who have never smoked. (a.), (b.)
  2. In females, lung cancer incidence rates are generally lower, but, worldwide, lung cancer is now the fourth most frequent cancer of women (513 000 cases, 8.5% of all cancers) and the second most common cause of death from cancer (427 000 deaths, 12.8% of the total). The highest incidence rate is observed in Northern America (where lung cancer it is now the second most frequent cancer in women), and the lowest in Middle Africa (15th most frequent cancer). Because of its high fatality (the ratio of mortality to incidence is 0.86) and the lack of variability in survival in developed and developing countries, the highest and lowest mortality rates are estimated in the same regions, both in men and women. (a.)
  3. Colorectal cancer is the fourth most common cancer in men and the third in women. Worldwide, nearly 1.2 million cases of colorectal cancer are expected to occur in 2007. The highest incidence rates are found in Japan, North America, parts of Europe, New Zealand, and Australia (Figures 5a and 5b). Rates are low in Africa and South-East Asia. Rates are substantially higher in men than in women. (c.)
  4. Prostate cancer is the second most frequently diagnosed cancer in men, with 782,600 new cases projected to occur in 2007. Nearly three-quarters of these cases are expected to be diagnosed in economically developed countries. Incidence rates of prostate cancer vary by more than 50-fold worldwide. The highest rates are recorded in the United States, largely because prostate specific antigen (PSA) testing is widely used and detects clinically important tumors as well as other slow-growing cancers that might otherwise escape diagnosis. The lowest rates are in many parts of Asia and Africa. PSA testing is widely practiced in North America and Australia, but not in Africa or Asia. (c.)
  5. In men, the highest lung cancer incidence rates are in Eastern Europe, North America, and Russia, and the lowest rates are in Africa, Melanesia, and South Central Asia. In women, the highest lung cancer rates are found in North America, the Scandinavian countries, and China. Lung cancer rates in Chinese women (19.0 cases per 100,000 women) are higher than the rates among women in many European countries, including Germany and France ( fewer than 13.0 cases per 100,000 women), despite their lower prevalence of smoking. This is thought to reflect indoor air pollution from unventilated coal-fueled stoves and from cooking fumes. (c.)
Top 5 facts sources:
  1. GLOBOCAN. (2008). "Globocan 2008 Cancer Fact Sheet". Retrieved Dec, 2010.
  2. United States Environmental Protection Agency. "Health Risks" Retrieved Dec, 2010. Web page:
  3. The American Cancer Society. (2007). "Global Cancer Facts & Figures 2007" (pages 1-4). Retrieved December 9th, 2010.
Tags: Health Statistics, Top 5 Most, Cancer statistics

Sources:  GLOBOCAN 2008, Cancer Incidence and Mortality Worldwide: IARC CancerBase No. 10 [Internet]. Last accessed by top 5 of Anything: Dec, 2010.

List Notes: List is ranked by number of deaths. Data is estimated for the year 2008 in 182 countries worldwide. Cancer rate is the number of female deaths per 100,000 persons per year and is age-standardized. An age-standardized rate is the rate that a population would have if it had a standard age structure. Standardization is necessary when comparing several populations that differ with respect to age because age has a powerful influence on the risk of cancer. Percentage of total is percentage of global cancer deaths. Data excludes non-melanoma skin cancer.
Most Frequent Cancers Worldwide

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