Innovative Healthcare Delivery Programme

Cancer incidence figures up to end of 2019 published

Scottish Cancer Registry publishes national cancer incidence statistics for all cancer types, up to December 2019

In May 2021, Public Health Scotland published the most recent national statistics on cancer incidence in Scotland for all cancer types, up to December 2019.

The report provides an annual update of cancer incidence statistics in Scotland from January 1995 to December 2019. All cancer types are included. It gives a national view of how cases of all types of cancer are changing over the 25-year period.

For example: the risks of developing bowel, stomach and oesophageal cancers and leukemias have been falling in the last 10 years in Scotland, while liver and thyroid cancers and skin melanomas have risen. Lung cancer remains the most common cancer in Scotland, although rates have gone down in men over the past decade. Whilst this reduction shows the benefits of fewer people smoking, it also highlights that many cases could still be prevented if smoking cessation rates increased.

Improving cancer outcomes in Scotland

The data demonstrate that social and economic deprivation continue to influence both the risk of developing cancer, and how advanced the disease is when it is diagnosed.

Having these statistical data on cancer incidence can help health professionals, local and national government and the third sector in their work to improve patient outcomes. It can also help to shine a light on health inequalities across Scotland.

Due to the complexities involved in confirming a new cancer registration and collation of information on the first treatments, there will always be a time lag of several months between the first notification of a provisional cancer registration and its confirmation. There is inevitably a balance, therefore, to be struck between data completeness and timeliness of the available information. The Registry will only release data for statistical purposes once it is confident that the data are considered complete for that year.

The data from the Scottish Cancer Registry represent the earliest official publication of cancer incidence figures of the UK nations (England, Northern Ireland, Wales and Scotland), and is amongst the earliest  2019 cancer incidence reports globally.

How SCRIS is supporting cancer registration in Scotland

The Scottish Cancer Registry and Intelligence Service (SCRIS) programme of work highlighted the need for a more robust technical infrastructure and more efficient data processing methods, along with the need for a more comprehensive range of data feeds into the Registry.

Having access to cancer incidence data and other cancer-related data in the SCRIS dashboards can help healthcare professionals and cancer service managers in their roles. The information can support cancer control and service improvement.

The respective indicators in the SCRIS dashboards will be updated and adjusted with the published incidence statistics at the end of July 2021. 

SCRIS is a collaborative project between the Innovative Healthcare Delivery Programme (IHDP) and Public Health Scotland. Professor Aileen Keel CBE, Director of IHDP recognises the role SCRIS is playing in cancer control. She said:

The SCRIS programme of work has been essential in improving the efficiency of collecting and processing cancer registry data in Scotland. Having these baseline cancer incidence figures available securely through the SCRIS dashboards allows relevant NHS staff to see where improvements in cancer control have been made, as well as where we need to do better.

Professor Aileen Keel CBEDirector of the Innovative Healthcare Delivery Programme

Read the full report

The full report is available on the Public Health Scotland website.

Cancer incidence and prevalence in Scotland to December 2019

A dashboard that includes information on pathologically confirmed cancer diagnoses in 2020 is also available. However, this dashboard differs from the national cancer incidence figures published in May, in that it does not contain every confirmed case of cancer.

COVID-19 wider impacts dashboard from Public Health Scotland

The Scottish Cancer Registry and Intelligence Service

Find out more about how IHDP has contributed to the Scottish Cancer Registry and Intelligence Service programme of work.

Modernising the Scottish Cancer Registry