Cancer Statistics

29 Shocking Cancer Statistics [2024 Update]

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Cancer has become a disease that’s exceptionally present in today’s society, as illustrated in many cancer statistics. Even hearing the word makes people uncomfortable.

Cancer begins with genetic mutations of the cells, which in return, start growing uncontrollably. The cells then create a tumor that can be benign or malignant — cancerous. These cells have the power to expand and occupy other organs in the person’s body, but not all cancer types can form a tumour.

The following information will shed light on the most important cancer facts and numbers, and expand on the topic of types of cancers, cancer rates in the US and globally, strangest facts, and possible cancer treatment options.

Cancer Statistics and Facts (Editor’s Choice)

  • Around 1.9 million US citizens will be diagnosed with cancer in 2021.
  • There are more than 16.9 million cancer survivors in the US.
  • Cancer is the second leading cause of death worldwide.
  • Tobacco is the most recognized cancer risk factor globally.
  • Australia, New Zealand, and Ireland are among the countries with the highest cancer rates.
  • 1 in 2 people will get cancer in their lifetime.
  • 7% of cancer patients develop a disabling fear of recurrence.
  • 49% of patients claim medical marijuana helps with their cancer symptoms.

Cancer Facts and Figures 2021

1. Around 1.9 million US citizens will be diagnosed with cancer in 2021.


Based on cancer statistics, 2021 will see almost two million Americans diagnosed with cancer.  Breast cancer diagnoses in women will reach over 281 million. On the other hand, there will be 248,530 expected cases of prostate cancer diagnosed among men. 

2. 608,570 cancer deaths are estimated to occur in the US in 2021.


Cancer facts for 2021 show the expected number of death cases in the country will be over half a million. The cancer death rate increased the most in the 20th century, peaking in 1991. Then it began to fall continuously over the succeeding decades, with a total decline rate of 31% as of 2018.

3. Avoiding risk factors and implementing new evidence-based treatments reduce cancer cases by 30-50%.


The global cancer statistics 2021 report offers so much hope for cancer patients and their loved ones. Accordingly, the burden of cancer can be lessened by up to 50% if detected early, and appropriate treatment is provided to the patient.  

Cancer Rates in the Us

4. There are more than 16.9 million cancer survivors in the US.

(, CDC)

Even though the number of patients diagnosed with cancer increases, the cancer survival rates denote almost 17 million cancer survivors in the US based on the most recent data. This number is likely to grow to 22.2 million by 2030.

Moreover, the cancer statistics for 2020 point out that deaths from certain types of cancer might drop due to improved screening and treatments.

5. Cancer will cause around 606,000 deaths in the US in 2020.


Lung and bronchus cancer will carry the highest death toll, predicted to be 135,720, according to cancer deaths per year stats. The second most common cause of death is colorectal cancer, and pancreatic cancer being the third.

6. The highest cancer rates in the US are seen in Kentucky.

(Cancer Health)

Kentucky scores first with the highest cancer diagnosis of 509.7 per 100,000 people and a cancer death rate of 194.2 deaths per 100,000 people. The national average is 435.6 and 155.9, respectively.

The top five other states with the highest cancer rates are Mississipi, West Virginia, Tennessee, and Arkansas, which have the highest death rates.

After Kentucky, the states having the most cancer diagnoses are Delaware, Pennsylvania, New Hampshire, New Jersey, and New York.

When it comes to the lowest cancer rates by state, New Mexico had the lowest diagnosis rate, and Utah had the lowest death rate.

Cancer Statistics

Global Cancer Statistics

7. Cancer is the leading cause of death worldwide.


There were nearly 10 million cancer-related deaths in 2020, according to global cancer statistics. Moreover, there are over 18 million new cases recorded per year.

By 2040, the number of cancer diagnoses is expected to rise to 29.5 million, while cancer-related deaths are proposed to reach 16.4 million.

8. Tobacco is the most recognized cancer risk factor globally.


A cancer statistics worldwide report released in 2020 found that most of the polled participants agree tobacco is a major cause of cancer.

Accounting for 64% of respondents agreeing, tobacco tops the list of cancer risk factors. Exposure to tobacco smoke from others was also on the third spot, with a 50% response rate.

9.  Breast cancer is the most common cancer, with 2.26 million new cases diagnosed in 2020, according to WHO.


Cancer facts 2020 reveal that breast cancer recorded the highest number of new cases last year. With 2.26 million people diagnosed with the disease worldwide, it became the most common type of cancer in the said period. Meanwhile, lung cancer remains the deadliest type, killing 1.80 million.

10. Cancer screenings are on hold, based on global cancer statistics 2020.


Many countries are battling with coronavirus, and unfortunately, it forced doctors to hold off cancer screenings worldwide.

Only urgent patients with severe symptoms were taken seriously and intervened on. There’s no doubt that the lack of diagnosis and cancer screening will affect the cancer statistics for 2020 worldwide and possibly cause increased death rates.

11. Australia, New Zealand, and Ireland are among the countries with the highest cancer rates.

(Blog.Dana-Farber, World Cancer Research Fund)

Cancer affects anyone regardless of race, gender, age, and country of origin. However, if we look at data showing the cancer rates by country, we can tell that the killer disease is more prevalent in countries with high incomes. This is mainly due to factors affecting people’s lifestyle in these countries, such as smoking, alcohol use, and obesity.

For instance, at 468 per 100,000 people, Australia has the highest cancer rates globally. It is followed by New Zealand (438.1), Ireland (373.7), Hungary (368.1), the US (352.2), Belgium (345.8), France (344.1), Denmark (340.4), Norway (337.8), and the Netherlands (334.1).

On the other side, countries with the lowest cancer rates are Israel, with 233.6 per 100,000 people, French Polynesia, Lebanon, Bulgaria, French Guiana, Austria, Japan, Singapore, Malta, and Martinique.

12. A 5-year survival rate for patients was the highest in the US.


Although cancer is the second leading cause of death in the US, the country has the highest 5-year survival rate. The availability of more advanced treatments for cancer contributes to this feat.

Other than the US, data on cancer survival rates by country indicates Canada, Australia, New Zealand, Finland, Iceland, Norway, and Sweden showing the highest 5-year survival rate for most cancers. The survival rates are increasing overall, even for some of the most deadly cancer forms.

Cancer Facts on Different Types of Cancer

13. There are 4 main types of cancer.


Carcinomas are the most common type of cancer. They begin in the skin or the tissue that covers the organs. Some examples of carcinomas are breast cancer and lung cancer. Sarcomas can develop in the tissues that connect the body, such as tendons or bones.

Leukemia begins when healthy blood cells start to grow uncontrollably. Cancer facts show four types of leukemias — acute lymphocytic, chronic lymphocytic, acute myeloid, and chronic myeloid leukemia.

And finally, there are lymphomas. These are cancers that start in the lymphatic system, and there are two main types, Hodgkin and non-Hodgkin lymphoma.

14. Breast cancer is the most common cancer in US women.

(National Breast Cancer Foundation, The Lancet)

According to breast cancer facts, it’s the most common type of cancer, after skin cancer. About 30% of women will be diagnosed with breast cancer in 2021, and on average, one woman is diagnosed every 2 minutes. 1 in 8 women will develop breast cancer over her lifetime.

Breast cancer statistics worldwide state that there were 2.26 million new cases of breast cancer in 2020. A less known fact is that men get breast cancer, too — approximately 2,650 American men will be diagnosed with breast cancer in 2021.

15. Prostate cancer is the most common cancer among men.


Prostate cancer statistics show that prostate cancer is the most common cancer in men after skin cancer.

Around 60% of prostate cancer diagnoses occur in men over 65, and the disease is rarely found in men younger than 40. 90% of prostate cancers are located only in the prostate and surrounding organs.

This type is named the local or regional stage prostate cancer, and the 5-year survival rate for men with this cancer is almost 100%.

16. 1 in 16 Americans will be diagnosed with lung cancer in their lifetime.


According to lung cancer statistics, there is one new diagnosis every 2 or 3 minutes. 60-65% of diagnoses are among those who have never smoked or are ex-smokers.

Facts about lung cancer show that lung cancer is the leading cause of cancer death, regardless of gender or ethnicity, and only 21% of people diagnosed with lung cancer will have a 5-year survival rate.

Additionally, based on lung cancer facts, 2020 saw about 25% of the approximately 83,300 cancer deaths due to lung cancer.

This makes the death cases from lung cancer greater than the combined deaths from colorectal, pancreatic, and breast cancer.

17. Colorectal cancer is the third most common cancer diagnosed in men and women.

(, Gastroenterology Consultants of San Antonio)

According to colon cancer facts, 2021 will see around 100,000 new cases of colon cancer. The rates of diagnoses have been declining since the mid-1980s. From 2013 – 2017, an annual drop of about 1% drop was observed.

In 2020, there are 104,610 new cases of colon cancer and 43,340 new cases of rectal cancer, colon cancer statistics show. The lifetime risk of developing colorectal cancer is 1 in 23 for men and 1 in 25 for women.

Strange Facts About Cancer

18. 1 in 2 people will get cancer in their lifetime.

(Medical News Today)

These are approximate chances of getting cancer today. With increased health care comes longer life expectancy, and with it also higher chances of being diagnosed with cancer. It comes down to this — the longer people live, the higher the chances of being diagnosed.

19. According to childhood cancer statistics, 1 in 285 children will be diagnosed with cancer by their 20th birthday.

(American Childhood Cancer Organization)

There are an estimated 15,780 children diagnosed with cancer in the US every year. Globally, that number reaches 300,000. Every 3 minutes, one child gets diagnosed. In the US, cancer is still the most common cause of death by disease among children.

20. Smokeless tobacco is less dangerous than regular cigarettes, but the risks are still high.


There are many types of smokeless tobacco, and chewing tobacco cancer statistics show that using any tobacco is a health risk. The amount of nicotine that users of smokeless tobacco get is equal to the amount that smokers get, all together with 30 various chemicals known to cause cancer.

21. Cancer with the lowest survival rate is mesothelioma.

(The Nuffield Trust)

Pancreatic cancer and brain cancer are also on the list of the lowest 5-year survival rates. The highest survival rates are among patients with testicular cancer, melanoma of the skin, and thyroid cancer.

22. 7% of cancer patients develop a disabling fear of recurrence.

(Cancer Therapy Advisor)

Cancer recurrence rates vary depending on the form of cancer, its stage, genetic factors, and treatments. Some cancers, like glioblastoma, are hard to treat, and the recurrence is high — in nearly all patients. On the other hand, cancers that are discovered early have low recurrence rates. Some breast cancers have a recurrence rate of between 5% and 9%.

23. The leading cause of cancer death in women and men in the US is lung cancer.

(Very Well Health)

While lung cancer is the leading cancer death in both genders, the most common type of cancer is skin cancer, and the most common diagnosis of cancer, excluding skin, is breast cancer.

Cancer Statistics

Facts About Possible Cancer Treatments

24. Medical marijuana can help with cancer symptoms in 49% of patients.

(American Marijuana)

One of the few positive cancer facts is that cancer and marijuana can go hand in hand. Medical marijuana can alleviate cancer-related symptoms such as nausea, vomiting, low appetite, insomnia, and pain. What type of cannabis product is taken depends on cancer and other treatments and a person’s preferences.

25. Marijuana smoke contains many of the same toxins as tobacco smoke.


There is a possible correlation between marijuana and lung cancer. Marijuana is smoked a bit differently, and its users tend to inhale the smoke deeper and keep it in the lungs longer, which damages the organ and leads to an increased risk of lung cancer.

26. Chemotherapy is often used to treat cancer.

(Mayo Clinic)

According to chemotherapy statistics, many cancers are treated with chemotherapy, be it alone or combined with other therapies. It all depends on the stage of the disease. It can also be used to prepare a patient for other treatments or alleviate cancer symptoms.

27. Chemotherapy success statistics strongly depend on the type of cancer.

(Medical News Today)

Statistics on chemotherapy effectiveness show that different types of cancers have different success rates. The 5-year relative survival rate for localized, regional, and distant cancers are —  for women diagnosed with breast cancer, 99%, 85%, and 26%, respectively.

When it comes to colorectal cancer, localized, regional, and distant colorectal cancer, the success rates are 90%, 71%, and 13%. Lung cancer has a success rate of 55%, 27%, and 4%. Chemotherapy survival rate statistics also depend on the type of treatment combined with chemotherapy.

28. A new cancer treatment costs nearly half a million.


Cancer treatment cost statistics point out that cancer is an expensive disease to treat. Kymriah is the most costly cancer treatment used to treat adolescent and young acute lymphoblastic leukemia. The cost — $450,000.

29. Radiation therapy contributes to about 40% of all cancer cures globally.

(Targeting Cancer)

According to cancer treatment statistics, radiation therapy is a highly effective cancer treatment. It’s a highly targeted treatment aimed at cancer directly, killing the cancerous cells with great accuracy. Radiation therapy is also effective in reducing the risk of cancer recurrence.


Cancer is an awful disease. There are numerous types of cancer, and one in two people are likely to get diagnosed with cancer during their lifetime. The main reason why cancer statistics show that cancer is on the rise is people’s extended lifespan.

There is a silver lining, though. Early detection through screening is essential for establishing proper treatment plans and minimizing recurrence.

Many cancer treatments are available today, such as radiotherapy, which can help patients aim and kill cancerous cells accurately. It remains to be seen when new treatments will come to be and how humanity will deal with cancer in the future.  


Lung cancer is the most common type of cancer, and about 90% of all cases are caused by cigarette smoking. About 10% to 15% of smokers develop lung cancer.

The main reason for the increase in cancer risk is the fact that the overall lifespan has increased. This makes the chances of getting cancer higher.

According to cancer statistics 2020 data, 1 in 2 men (40.14%) will develop cancer during their lifetime. The odds will be relatively lower for women at 1 in 3 chance (38.7%).

Cancer is the second leading cause of death after cardiovascular diseases. Data on cancer deaths per year worldwide estimates that one out of six deaths is cancer-related. In 2018, there are about 9.6 million cancer-related deaths in the world.

A rough estimate is that 606,520 people die of cancer each year in the US alone. On a global scale, there were approximately 10 million people who died of cancer last year, cancer statistics worldwide 2020 report shows.

Due to the pandemic, cancer screenings were put on hold both in the US and globally, which can negatively affect patients’ treatments.

According to cancer statistics, lung cancer is the #1 cancer killer in men and women. Each year there are 200,000 people diagnosed, while about 150,000 patients die.