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Cancer Prevalence: How Many People Have Cancer?

What is cancer prevalence?

Cancer prevalence is defined as the number of living people who have ever been diagnosed with cancer. It includes people diagnosed with cancer in the past as well those who were recently diagnosed.

Cancer prevalence is determined by how often a cancer occurs (incidence) and by how long people normally live after diagnosis (survival). This means prevalence counts are highest for the most common cancers with the longest survival. And, a common cancer with shorter survival may have a lower prevalence count than a less common cancer with longer survival.

For example, although lung cancer is one of the most common cancer in both men and women, the prevalence count for lung cancer is lower than that for non-Hodgkin lymphoma, which is a less common cancer. This is because people with non-Hodgkin lymphoma survive longer than those with lung cancer, so there are more people living after a diagnosis of non-Hodgkin lymphoma than after a diagnosis of lung cancer.

The numbers

The numbers on this chart are prevalence counts from the National Cancer Institute’s Surveillance Epidemiology and End Results (SEER) program. These estimates are based on a sampling of the US population.

Numbers may not add up because they have been rounded to the nearest 1,000.

Estimated cancer prevalence in the United States as of January 1, 2010

 

Total

Males

Females

 

All invasive cancer sites

13,028,000

6,079,000

6,949,000

Brain and other nervous system

142,000

74,000

67,000

Breast

2,844,000

15,000

2,829,000

Cervix

249,000

0

249,000

Colon & rectum

1,154,000

570,000

585,000

Endometrial cancer and Uterine sarcoma

600,000

0

600,000

Esophagus

34,000

26,000

7,000

Hodgkin disease

182,000

94,000

88,000

Kidney and renal pelvis

342,000

203,000

139,000

Larynx

89,000

72,000

17,000

Leukemias

288,000

163,000

125,000

Liver and bile duct

41,000

29,000

12,000

Lung and bronchus

399,000

183,000

216,000

Melanoma of skin

922,000

453,000

469,000

Multiple myeloma

78,000

42,000

35,000

Non-Hodgkin lymphoma

509,000

266,000

243,000

Oral cavity and pharynx

275,000

181,000

94,000

Ovary

186,000

0

186,000

Pancreas

42,000

20,000

21,000

Prostate

2,618,000

2,618,000

0

Stomach

72,000

41,000

31,000

Testis

221,000

221,000

0

Thyroid

535,000

117,000

418,000

Urinary bladder

564,000

420,000

144,000

Childhood cancer (age 0 -19 years at diagnosis)

379,000

190,000

189,000

References

Howlader N, Noone AM, Krapcho M, et al(eds). SEER Cancer Statistics Review, 1975-2010, National Cancer Institute. Bethesda, MD, based on November 2012 SEER data submission, posted to the SEER website, April 2013, accessed at http://seer.cancer.gov/csr/1975_2010/ on October 14, 2013.


Last Medical Review: 10/14/2013
Last Revised: 10/25/2013