There are over 200 different types of cancer, each with its own risk factors, methods of diagnosis and treatment. Some of the known causes of cancer are excessive alcohol consumption, exposure to asbestos, unhealthy dietphysical inactivity, being overweight or obese, being exposed to natural and man-made radiation, smoking and tobacco use, ultraviolet light (including sun exposure and use of sun beds), and viruses such as human papilloma virus (HPV).

Emerging evidence suggests that 50,000 cancer diagnoses have been missed across the UK due to the Covid-19 pandemic. This is primarily due to later presentations with symptoms, cancellations to appointments and longer waits to see specialists. Some people may also be reluctant to address concerns or attend GP practices due to fear of catching Covid-19. While evidence suggests mitigating risk from Covid-19 through promoting a healthy lifestyle, stopping smoking, and engaging with vaccination/booster programmes, these approaches may not be accessible or achievable for all, for many reasons.

These missed diagnoses mean that treatment is delayed or doesn't happen. Cancer diagnosed at a later or more advanced stage may be more difficult to treat, with reduced survivability in some cases. The full extent of the pandemic on cancer prevalence, incidence and mortality will become clearer as more data are collected. For current data on cases and deaths, please see the Government's Coronavirus page. 

Key findings


Prevalence refers to the number of cases of a disease that are present in a particular population at a given time. In the case of cancer, the prevalence data are from the Quality and Outcomes Framework (QOF) disease registers, while the reported cancer figure is from the GP Patient Survey (2021).

  • The latest figures (2022/23) indicate that there are 72,703 (4.0%) known cases of cancer across the NHS Lancashire and South Cumbria Integrated Care Board footprint (L&SC ICB), which includes Blackburn with Darwen, Blackpool and South Cumbria, higher than England (3.5%). Trend data shows this is increasing.
  • The percentage of people reporting cancer in the last five years across the L&SC ICB (2022) is 3.5%, similar to England (3.2%)

Incidence and admissions

Incidence refers to the total number of new confirmed (diagnosed) cases of a disease, in a population at a given period of time. For cancer, the data are all new diagnoses of malignant cancer (ICD10 C00-C97), excluding skin cancers other than malignant melanoma, from the National Cancer Registration Service. 

  • There were 11,089 new cases of cancer across the L&SC ICB footprint in 2021/22, giving a rate of 611 per 100,000. This is higher compared to England (540).
  • There were 8,976 emergency admissions with cancer (2022/23) in L&SC ICB, trend data shows this is decreasing.
  • In Lancashire-12 52.9% of cancers were diagnosed at stages 1 and 2 (2021) which is significantly lower than the England proportions (54.4%).
  • Blackpool (49.1%) is also significantly worse than England whilst Blackburn with Darwen is also significantly similar (51.3%).

All-age mortality

The rates below are directly standardised and are for 100,000 of the population (all ages) for 2020-22 unless otherwise stated.

  • In the Lancashire-12 area the mortality rate from cancer is 255.2 which is similar to the England rate (251.7), Blackpool (306.9) and Blackburn with Darwen (289.6) have significantly higher mortality rates.
  • Mortality rates in Lancashire-12 (L12) were worse than England (E) for lung cancer (L=54.9, E=48.9) and oesophageal cancer (L12=14.1, E=11.9).
  • Mortality rates were similar to England for colorectal cancers (L12=26.4, E=25.7), stomach cancer (L12=5.4, E=5.6), bladder cancer (L12=8.7, E=8.7) and oral cancer (L12=5.3, E=4.7 [2017-19]).
  • Mortality rates were better/lower in Lancashire-12 than England for breast cancer (L12=28.5, E=31.3) and prostate cancer (L12=40.7, E=44.4).
  • 2,258 deaths were classed as 'smoking attributable deaths from cancer', giving the area a rate of 99.5, significantly higher than England (89.6). Blackpool (142.7) and Blackburn with Darwen (137.2) are both significantly higher than England. 

Premature mortality

Reducing premature mortality - referred to as mortality in persons aged 74 or under - is a major priority for both the Office for Health Improvement & Disparities (OHID - formerly Public Health England) and the NHS, with many deaths caused by diseases and illnesses that are considered avoidable or preventable. The rates below are directly standardised and are for 100,000 of the population (under-75 years) for 2020-2022.

  • There were 4,612 premature deaths from cancer across Lancashire-12 and of these, 1,992 were considered preventable. 
  • The rate of premature mortality from cancer in Lancashire-12 (129.9) is significantly worse than the England value (123.2). 
  • Premature mortality from Cancer was similar to England for males (L12=141.4, E=135.9) but higher/worse for females (L12=118.9, E=111.4)
  • The rate of premature mortality from cancer considered preventable in Lancashire-12 (55.7) is significantly higher than England (50.5).
  • Blackpool (83.1) and Blackburn with Darwen (63.1) also recorded rates significantly above England for premature mortality from cancer considered preventable.

The Neighbourhood Intelligence Mortality Dashboard shows the standardised mortality ratio (SMR) for all cancers for wards in Lancashire (2016-20).

OHID also produces the Cancer Services profiles for further details.

Please note, there have been changes in trends due to Covid-19 impacting on some activity. Please consider this at all times when interpreting in particular 2020/21 figures and, to a smaller degree, 2019/20 results.

For additional county and unitary data and further information please see below. Please select the geography type to see what indicators are available as not all are provided across the different footprints.

Page updated April 2024