BMA report

Cancer in women

We examine the increase in cancer incidence in women, preventable risk factors amongst deprived women, and highlight the role of health professionals in helping women to recognise signs and symptoms of cancer.

Location: UK
Audience: All doctors
Updated: Monday 7 September 2020
Topics: Population health
Public Health Article Illustration

What you will get from this report

  • Exploration of the increase in cancer incidence in women and the projected rise in cancer cases over the next 20 years.
  • Graphs and illustrations to quickly demonstrate trends in cancer-related mortality in women in the UK.
  • Recommendations for government and national decision makers to help diagnose cancer earlier and radically upgrade our prevention effort.


Key findings

  • On average in the UK, a woman is diagnosed with cancer every three minutes, and every seven minutes a woman dies from cancer.
  • More focus is required to prevent cancers in women, especially through smoking cessation programmes and tackling rising obesity.
  • It is imperative to have the right diagnostic capacity and resources for the projected rise in need for services to make sure this is not a cause of avoidable delays in their diagnosis and treatment.
  • Health professionals have a crucial role to play in helping women to recognise signs and symptoms of cancer, to be aware of the benefits of the national screening programmes and encourage awareness and adoption of NICE guidelines amongst fellow professionals.


  • Incidence of cancer in women
  • Mortality
  • Deprivation
  • Survival
  • Future burden
  • Evidence and key opportunities for improvement
  • Early diagnosis
  • Actions required