Background: Identifying and addressing the requirements of cancer survivors is currently a high priority for the NHS, yet little is known about the population of cancer survivors in the United Kingdom.
Methods: Data from cancer registries in England, Northern Ireland, Scotland and Wales were analysed to provide limited-duration prevalence estimates for 2004. Log-linear regression models were used to extend these to complete prevalence estimates. Trends in prevalence from 2000 to 2004 were used to project complete prevalence estimates forward from 2004 to 2008.
Results: We estimated that in total, there were 2 million cancer survivors in the United Kingdom at the end of 2008, approximately 3% of the population overall and 1 in 8 of those aged 65 years and more. Prostate and female breast cancers were the most prevalent. The number of cancer survivors is increasing by approximately 3% each year. Estimates are also provided by time since diagnosis.
Conclusion: These estimates are the most up-to-date available, and as such will be useful for statutory and voluntary sector organisations that are responsible for planning and providing treatment and support to cancer survivors in the United Kingdom.