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J Public Health (Oxf). 2012 Jun;34(2):287-95. doi: 10.1093/pubmed/fdr093. Epub 2011 Dec 2.

Burden of disease due to cancer in England and Wales.

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Institute of Public Health, Department of Public Health and Primary Care, University Forvie Site, Robinson Way, Cambridge CB2 0SR, UK.



This study aims to estimate the burden of cancer in England and Wales using disability-adjusted life years (DALYs) and to determine if the ranking of relative importance changes with metric used.


DALYs are the sum of years of life lost due to mortality and years lost due to disability. Annual DALYs due to cancer were calculated using cancer registration, mortality, disability weights and World Health Organization methodology.


There were 8 605 362 DALYs due to cancer (3242 DALYs/100 000 population/year). Of the total, 47% corresponded to lung, prostate and colorectal cancers in males and 56% to breast, lung, colorectal and ovarian cancers in females. Mortality (86% of DALYs) contributed predominantly to DALYs. Individuals of 65-75 years contributed to 28% of DALYs. Among females, lung cancer ranked highest by death rates, whereas the highest DALYs were from breast cancer.


Highest DALYs were due to lung, breast, prostate and colorectal cancers in England and Wales. The addition of the disability component changes the relative position of some of the top cancers. Although metrics based on deaths alone capture most effects of cancer on population health levels, important additional perspectives, relevant to the planning of services, can be gained from burden of disease analyses.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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