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Cancer is when abnormal cells divide in an uncontrolled way and some cancers may eventually spread into other tissues.  There are over 200 different types of cancer, each with its own methods of diagnosis and treatment. There is no single cause for any one type of cancer although some of the known causes include alcohol, asbestos, diet, being overweight, natural and manmade radiation, smoking, ultraviolet light (including sun exposure and use of sun beds) and viruses such as human papilloma virus (HPV).

Herefordshire prevalence increasing and higher than nationally

Between 2009/10 and 2019/20 the prevalence across the Herefordshire showed a consistent year on year increase mirroring the pattern for England as a whole. However, throughout this period the local rate has been consistently higher than the national figure and in 2019/20 was 4.1% compared to 3.1% for England (Figure 1).

Local incidence higher than for England

The Herefordshire cancer incidence rate has shown little variation in the last ten years and in 2018/19 was 643 per 100,000, a figure higher than that for England (529 per 100,000). This latest local figure corresponds to 1,200 newly diagnosed cancer cases.

Premature mortality rate similar to that seen nationally

Cancer is one of the most common causes of premature mortality (occurring at less than 75 years of age) in England and between 2008 and 2020 was responsible for 2 out of every 5 premature deaths in Herefordshire. Since the turn of the century Herefordshire premature mortality rate has shown a general decline and has been lower than or similar to that recorded nationally; in 2020 the local figure of 113 per 100,000 – similar to the national figure but almost 20% lower than that recorded in 2001. Those living in the most deprived areas of the county are 50% more likely to die prematurely from cancer than those in the least deprived.