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Frequently asked questions

What is cancer incidence and where is the data from?

Incidence is the number or rate (per head of population) of new cases of cancer diagnosed in a given population in a defined time period (in this case a year). This does not include secondary cancers or recurrences.

Data on patients diagnosed with cancer is recorded on the National Cancer Data Repository. The incidence rates are calculated from population files, based on Office for National Statistics (ONS) estimates.

Incidence source: Public Health England (PHE) Cancer Analysis System and Office for National Statistics. Patients of all ages diagnosed between 2001 and 2015 extracted from PHE. 

More detail on cancer incidence and mortality can be found on the PHE and NHS Cancer Data Dashboard.

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What are the tumour groups included for incidence and mortality?

There are 22 cancer types (or tumour groups) included for incidence and mortality on this site, including 'All cancers'.

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What are age-standardised rates and why have they been used?

Age-standardised rates take account of the variation in the age structures of populations. The age-standardised rates adjust for age to allow comparisons between different areas or time trends to be made.

The rates are directly age-standardised rates and are calculated by taking the age-specific crude rates and applying them to the age distribution of a hypothetical population [in this case, the 2013 European Standard Population (ESP)].

What does it mean when we say ’higher than’, ’lower than’ or ’similar to’ the England average for incidence and mortality?

The reference to 'higher than', 'lower than' or 'similar to' indicates whether the age-standardised rate for the locality is statistically significantly different to the England average.

When looking at data sometimes differences may be due to chance and depend on the quality and random and natural variation of the subject of interest. The difference we highlight is defined by comparing the confidence intervals for the local area with the rate for England. Confidence intervals are used to show the range around a data point where we are, in this case, 95% sure that the true value lies. It is a measure of how confident we are that the statistic is true.

'Higher than' indicates the local rate is significantly higher than the England average and this difference is unlikely to be due to chance i.e. we are 95% sure that the figure is different.

'Similar to' indicates that local rate is not significantly different – the numbers may not be identical but we cannot be sure that the true difference is not due to chance so we say that the local figure is not significantly different to the England average.

'Lower than' indicates that the local rate is significantly lower than the England average and this difference is unlikely to be due to chance.

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What is cancer mortality and where is the data from?

Cancer mortality is the number or rate of deaths from cancer in a given population in a defined time period (usually a year). Mortality data relate to all deaths registered with cancer mentioned as an underlying cause of death. 

In 2016, cancers accounted for 28% of all deaths in England and Wales while circulatory diseases, (which include deaths from ischaemic heart disease and strokes) accounted for 25%.

Mortality source: Public Health England (PHE) Cancer Analysis System and Office for National Statistics. Patients of all ages who died from cancer between 2001 and 2015 extracted from PHE.

More detail on cancer incidence and mortality can be found on the PHE and NHS Cancer Data Dashboard.

 

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