Skip to content

Prostate cancer: the most common cancer among men in England - 2010

Released: 06 March 2013 Download PDF

Figure 1: Prostate cancer incidence and mortality rates, England, 1971–2010

Prostate cancer incidence and mortality rates, England, 1971–2010
Source: Office for National Statistics


  1. Age-standardised rates per 100,000 population, standardised using the European Standard Population

Download chart data

Prostate cancer is the most common male cancer in England, accounting for a quarter (26%) of all newly diagnosed cases of cancer among men in 2010. Just under 34,900 new cases of prostate cancer were diagnosed in 2010, a rate of 106 new cases per 100,000 men. It is estimated that one in eight men will develop prostate cancer at some point in their lives (Cancer Research UK, 2012a).

In 2010, just under 9,100 males died from prostate cancer in England, a rate of 24 deaths per 100,000 males. Prostate cancer was the second most common cause of cancer death in men in 2010, after lung cancer, accounting for 13% of all male cancer deaths. Mortality rates increased steadily between 1971 and 1992, before declining gradually between 1992 and 2010.

The sharp rise in the incidence of prostate cancer in the early part of the 1990s reflects improvements in diagnosis from increased use of Prostate-Specific Antigen (PSA) testing (Quinn et al, 2001). This has been key in the large improvements in survival over recent years. For men diagnosed with prostate cancer in 2006-2010 and followed up to 2011, the five year survival estimate was 80%, compared with 75% for men diagnosed between 1999 and 2003 and followed up to 2004 (see Background Note 1). The introduction of the PSA test increased the diagnosis of latent tumours that would not otherwise have been diagnosed during a man’s lifetime. Latent tumours are generally those which do not progress far enough to cause problems or symptoms or become life-threatening. Men with these tumours have higher survival (Office for National Statistics, 2012a).

Whereas survival of most cancers is generally higher among younger patients than older ones, for prostate cancer the reverse is true: survival is slightly lower for men aged 15–49 years (90 per cent) than for those aged 50–69 years (92 per cent) (Office for National Statistics, 2012b). Higher survival among men aged 50-69 is likely to be due to PSA testing in this age group (Cancer Research UK, 2012b). The strongest risk factor for prostate cancer is age (Cancer Research UK, 2009): it is relatively uncommon in men under 45 but becomes more common with advancing age. In 2010, 75% of new cases occurred in men aged 65 and over, and the largest number of new cases was among those aged 70-74.

There is currently no national screening programme for prostate cancer. However, the Prostate Cancer Risk Management programme was introduced in 2002 in response to considerable demand for the PSA test among men worried about prostate cancer. The programme provides information to men on the risks and benefits of the PSA test, to enable them to decide whether or not to have the PSA test. The test is available free of charge to those men aged over 50 who choose to have it (NHS Cancer Screening Programmes, 2012).


Cancer Research UK (2009). Prostate cancer risk factors.

Cancer Research UK (2012a). Lifetime risk of cancer.

Cancer Research UK (2012b). Prostate cancer survival statistics.

NHS Cancer Screening Programmes (2012). Prostate cancer risk management programme.

Office for National Statistics (2012a). Geographic patterns of cancer survival in England, patients followed to 2010.

Office for National Statistics (2012b). Cancer survival in England: patients diagnosed 2006-2010 and followed up to 2011.

Quinn M, Babb P, Brock A, Kirby L & Jones J (2001). Cancer trends in England and Wales, 1950–1999. Studies on Medical and Population Subjects No.66, London: The Stationery Office.

Source: Office for National Statistics

Background notes

  1. There has been a change in the statistical methods used to calculate survival estimates, with net survival estimates replacing relative survival estimates for those patients diagnosed during 2006–2010. Survival for patients diagnosed during 2005–2009 was re-estimated with the revised approach. The influence of the change in approach was to decrease the overall age-standardised survival estimate by 2.2%, from 81.4% for relative survival to 79.2% for net survival. For further information on this change in methods, see the Cancer survival in England: patients diagnosed 2006-2010 and followed up to 2011 statistical bulletin.

  2. Prostate cancer is coded as 185 in the International Classification of Diseases Eighth and Ninth Revisions (ICD-8 & 9) and C61 in the Tenth Revision (ICD-10).

  3. Age-standardised rates are expressed per 100,000 population and are standardised to the European Standard Population. They are standardised to allow for more robust comparisons between males and females, years, and geographical areas.

  4. The five-year survival estimates are for adults aged 15-99 and have been age standardised to control for changes in the age profile of cancer patients over time. This enables figures for different time periods to be compared.

  5. Incidence figures presented are based on rates reported in the most recent Annual Reference Volume (Cancer Statistics - Registrations, England 2010, Series MB1 no 41) and represent registrations received at ONS by the end of December 2011.

  6. Special extracts and tabulations of cancer data for England are available to order for a charge (subject to legal frameworks, disclosure control, resources and agreement of costs, where appropriate). Such enquiries should be made to:

    Cancer and End of Life Care Analysis Team 
    Life Events and Population Sources Division
    Office for National Statistics
    Government Buildings
    Cardiff Road
    NP10 8XG
    Tel: 01633 456021
    The ONS Charging Policy is available on the ONS website.

  7. We welcome feedback from users on the content, format and relevance of this release. The Health and Life Events User Engagement Strategy is available to download from the ONS website.

  8. Follow ONS on Twitter and Facebook.

  9. These National Statistics are produced to high professional standards and released according to the arrangements approved by the UK Statistics Authority.

  10. Details of the policy governing the release of new data are available by visiting or from the Media Relations Office email:

    These National Statistics are produced to high professional standards and released according to the arrangements approved by the UK Statistics Authority.

Content from the Office for National Statistics.
© Crown Copyright applies unless otherwise stated.