17+ Cancer Statistics & Facts (2020 Update)

Last modified: October 11, 2020

Discover the crucial cancer statistics, including the survival rates based on specific demographics, like gender, country, and age.

Over the last few decades, cancer has become a pressing medical concern for people worldwide. The overall cancer death rate remains fairly high, and treatment plans are oftentimes ineffective and complicated. Despite this, research is helping determine what causes abnormal cell growth and who is predisposed to the disease. Most importantly, researchers are doing everything they can to discover more effective treatment plans.

To put things into perspective, cancer represents a group of diseases, all of which are characterized by abnormal cell growth that can both invade and spread to other parts of the body.

The cancer statistics provided in this article will focus on outlining some of the main data points on cancer. As such, we will briefly discuss cancer’s fatality rates, as well as its survival rates based on certain demographics, like gender, country, and age, alongside several other important facts on the disease. All information presented in this article is sourced from a series of reputable sources.

Deadly Cancer Stats 2020 

  • 9.6 million people died from cancer in 2017.
  • 67.1% of patients survive cancer for at least 5 years in the United States.
  • Approximately 84.6% of children aged 0–19 survive for at least 5 years after diagnosis in the US.
  • Over 1.7 million new cases of cancer have been diagnosed in 2019 in the US.
  • Lung cancer represents the most dangerous type of the disease, with over 1.88 million worldwide deaths.

What country has the highest cancer rate?

Australia has the world’s highest cancer rate. A noteworthy statistic on cancer indicates that 648 people out of 100,000 live with the disease.

How many people have cancer?

A total of 17 million new cancer diagnoses were reported worldwide in 2018. Determining the exact number of people living with cancer throughout the world is difficult due to the lack of data in less developed countries.
Which cancer has the worst survival rate?
Survival rates vary based on a variety of factors, but pancreatic cancer has the worst survival rate among the most common types of cancer. For instance, cancer rates in the US show that its five-year survival rate is situated at 8.2%, and the 10-year survival rate is only 2.2%.

How common is cancer?

It’s believed that approximately a third of people throughout the world will get cancer at some point.

What is the cancer percentage in the US?

In the United States, 38.4% of men and women live with the disease or will be diagnosed at some point in their lives. However, the mortality rates are bound to drop, as estimates indicate that around 20.3 million US residents will survive cancer in 2026.

Which country has the lowest rate of cancer?

The reasoning behind the following data isn’t yet clear, but in 2016, Syria had the lowest rate of cancer, alongside the lowest mortality rates. On the other end of the spectrum, cancer was most prevalent in Norway, where the cancer percentages were highest.

1. Cancer represents the world’s second most common cause of death in the world.

Studying cancer, the numbers show that every sixth death is caused by it. In fact, it’s second only to cardiovascular diseases. Despite this aspect, the increased prevalence of cancer is slowly boosting its likelihood of reaching the top spot among the world’s leading causes of death.

Source: OurWorldInData

2. 9.6 million people died because of cancer in 2017 alone. 

So how many people die from cancer each year? This statistic makes it easier to determine an answer. While its death rates have dropped, around 9 million people continue to die from cancer yearly at this time.

Source: OurWorldInData

3. In 2016, over 15.3 million people were living with cancer in the US.

This statistic includes patients who have been officially diagnosed with some form of cancer. Today’s numbers aren’t yet available, as the US National Cancer Institute has not yet published further research on the subject.

Source: US National Cancer Institute

4. Approximately 606,880 people have died from cancer in 2019 in the US.

A US government-backed study following all types of cancer estimates that well over half a million people have passed away from the disease so far this year. This helps us put our cancer statistics by country into better perspective.

Source: US National Cancer Institute

5. In the US, 67.1% of cancer patients reach the 5-year survival mark.

It’s well known that the survival rates are directly linked to the type of cancer, the general health of the patient, and most importantly, whether it was discovered early. This statistic includes all of these factors, so regardless of type, age, and discovery date, at least 67% of people survive the disease for 5 years since its discovery. Despite this, the number of cancer deaths per year remains high.

Source: US National Cancer Institute

6. Over 1.7 million new cancer cases have been diagnosed in 2019 in the US.

While the death rates are certainly slimmer when compared to past decades, cancer seems to be more prevalent, as more and more people are affected by the disease. This represents the main concern of numerous research groups, as no exact cause can be pinpointed at this time.

Source: US National Cancer Institute

7. Research into the cancer facts & figures indicates that 39.3% of people will be diagnosed with cancer.

Unfortunately, this is yet another grim statistic. It’s based on data collected in the US between 2014 and 2016 stating that 39.3% of people will be diagnosed with some type of cancer at some point in their lives. This means it’s likely for cancer to become the world’s number one cause of death sometime in the next few decades if the current trend continues.

Source: US National Cancer Institute

8. In the US, breast cancer (for females) and lung cancer (all genders) represent the most common types of the disease.

As such, a 2019 analysis has determined the following numbers for the five most common types of cancer and their subsequent cancer death statistics:

  • Breast cancer: 268,600 new cases in 2019; 41,760 deaths
  • Lung and bronchus cancer: 228,150 new cases; 142,670 deaths
  • Prostate cancer: 174,650 new cases; 31,620 deaths
  • Colorectal cancer: 145,600 new cases; 51,020 deaths
  • Melanoma (skin cancer): 96,470 new cases; 7,230 deaths

Source: US National Cancer Institute

9. In the US, those aged 65–74 are the most likely to get cancer.

The National Cancer Institute’s research has determined the percentage of new cancer cases by age group based on data sourced between 2012 and 2016. Combining data on cancer type, gender, and race, here are the numbers covering cancer rates by age:

  • 1% of those under 20 years old get cancer
  • 2.8% of those 20–34 years old
  • 4.9% of those 35–44 years old
  • 12.9% of those 45–54 years old
  • 24.4% of those 55–64 years old
  • 27.6% of those 65–74 years old
  • 18.3% of those 75–84 years old
  • 8.1% of those over 84 years

Currently, the median age that patients are diagnosed is 66 years old.

Source: US National Cancer Institute

With this in mind, the age groups at the highest risk of death are (in descending order): 65–74 years, 75–84 years, 55–64 years, 84 years and up, 45–54 years, 35–44 years, 20–34 years, and those under 20 years of age. Luckily, the cancer cure rates are improving with time.

Source: US National Cancer Institute

11. Lung cancer represents the most dangerous type of cancer in the world.

Research by the Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation has helped determine the survival rates of different types of cancer, showing which types are the most deadly. Here are the numbers for the five most dangerous cancer types in 2017:

  • Lung, bronchial, and tracheal cancer: 1.88 million deaths worldwide
  • Colorectal cancer: 896,040 deaths
  • Stomach cancer: 864,989 deaths
  • Liver cancer: 819,435 deaths
  • Breast cancer: 611,625 deaths

Source: Global Health Data Exchange

12. Men are generally affected more by cancer.

Research into cancer statistics has determined the number of cancer deaths among men and women, by type. Here are the numbers, for the United States, during 2016:

  • 105,601 men died from lung cancer, compared to 85,861 women.
  • 42,211 men died from colorectal cancer, compared to 37,085 women.

The cancers that affect both men and women generally have higher mortality rates among men. On the other hand, cancers such as ovarian cancer or breast cancer affect women almost exclusively.

Source: Global Health Data Exchange

13. Cancer mortality rates are directly linked to a region’s poverty level.

A study investigating the total cancer deaths per year in all US counties found a correlation between how poor or affluent a county is and the mortality rate. With this in mind, in a poor county, the incidence of death stands at 176.7 per 100,000 people yearly, whereas in an affluent county, it stands at 149.7 per 100,000.

Source: Wiley Online Library

14. A central nervous system neoplasm is the most common type of cancer for youths (0–14 years old).

This type of cancer represents 26% of cancer cases for those aged 0–14 years. Other common types of cancer for this age group include lymphoid leukemia, neuroblastoma or other peripheral nervous cell tumors, and non‐Hodgkin lymphoma. For 14–19-year-olds, central nervous system neoplasms remain the leading cause of death by cancer, followed by Hodgkin lymphoma and thyroid carcinoma. As we can see, the cancer rates over time tend to change for youths. Fortunately, because of improved medical care, the five-year survival rate is quite high for all these cancers.

Source: Wiley Online Library

15. Approximately 84.6% of children aged 0–19 survive for at least 5 years after diagnosis in the US. 

All the cancers that occur in teens together lead to a five-year survival rate of 84.6% in the US. Survival rates are lowest for neuroblastoma and other peripheral nervous cell tumors, hepatic tumors, and rhabdomyosarcoma.

Source: Wiley Online Library

16. Survival rates for cancer are highest for those 15–40 years of age, and lowest for 80–99-year-olds. 

Unfortunately, this statistic doesn’t give us actual cancer cure rates. Doing so would in fact be very difficult, since curing cancer entails making sure that not one cancerous cell has survived within the body. With the current scientific limitations, this is impossible.

Source: Cancer Research UK

17. In the UK, 98% of people survive for at least 10 years in the case of testicular cancer. Meanwhile, only 1% of patients survive pancreatic cancer in this period.

We included this statistic because it showcases how significantly cancer survival rates vary by type. However, it can also be assumed that there are many safer types of cancer.

Source: Cancer Research UK

It’s also likely that this spending will continue to increase because of an aging population and the increased prevalence of cancer. While rates are actively growing due to unknown causes, the mortality rates are slowly dropping—showcasing the advancements made and smarter treatment plans being given to patients.

Source: National Cancer Institute

Conclusion

Based on its incidence, the high number of deaths, and the continuous mystery that surrounds the disease, cancer remains one of the world’s biggest health concerns. At this moment, break-through treatment plans are being tested out in research facilities throughout the world, thus increasing hopes that better and more humane treatments will be available soon. With this in mind, future cancer statistics are expected to be much more positive.

Unfortunately, we can’t yet determine the main causes of cancer, but scientists are aware that certain chemicals act as carcinogens, thus stimulating the unhealthy growth of cells. In general, avoiding cancer is a life-long journey that entails making the right decisions regarding what you eat, your habits, where you work, and where you live. Promoting healthier lifestyles is the first step toward reducing the rate at which people are dying of cancer.