Background: Projections of cancer incidence are important for planning health services and to provide a baseline for assessing the impact of public health interventions.
Methods: Rates estimated from smooth function age-period-cohort modelling of cancer incidence data from Great Britain 1975 to 2007 are extrapolated to 2030 and applied to UK population projections. Prostate and breast cancer projections take into account the effect of screening.
Results: Overall rates of cancer are projected to be stable over the next 20 years, but this masks individual changes. In both sexes, age-standardised rates of cancers of the stomach, larynx, bladder and leukaemia are projected to fall by ≥1% per year, whereas cancers of the lip, mouth and pharynx (ICD-10 C00-C14) and melanoma are projected to increase by ≥1% per year. The growing and aging populations will have a substantial impact: numbers of cancers in men and women are projected to increase by 55% (from 149,169 to 231,026) and 35% (from 148,716 to 200,929), respectively, between 2007 and 2030. The model used yields similar results to those of Nordpred, but is more flexible.
Conclusion: Without new initiatives for smoking and obesity reduction, the number of cancers in the United Kingdom will increase substantially reflecting the growing and aging populations.