Cancer in Norway 2010

The annual report the Cancer Registry of Norway provides incidence data on different cancers and the latest survival data.

New Cases

A total of 28 271 new cancer cases were reported in 2010: 53 per cent were among men and 47 per cent among women.

The five most common cancer types, in descending order, are for men: prostate, lung, colon, bladder, skin (non-melanoma), and for women: breast, lung, colon, malignant melanoma of the skin and uterus cancer.

Some variation in incidence rates may occur from one year to the next. In addition, the numbers for the preceding year (in this case 2009) will always be slightly higher than in last year`s report due to delayed notification of cancer cases.  

When interpreting the cancer statistics, one should therefore look at the cancer development over the past several years.

The incidence rate has increased by 7 per cent in men and 3 per cent in women from the past five-year period (2001-2005) until the current one (2006-2010).

In men the largest incidence increase was in cancer of the prostate (21 per cent) and malignant melanoma (15 per cent). On the positive side, the rate for rectal cancer show a small reduction of 4 per cent. The rates for colon, lung and bladder cancer have leveled off and are only slightly changed in the period 2006-2010, compared to 2001-2005.

In women the strongest increase occurred in incidence of lung cancer (16 per cent) and malignant melanoma (15 per cent). For breast cancer, incidence rates increased until 2005, and have declined from 2006 onwards.  The rate reduction from 2001-2005 to 2006-2010 was 5 per cent. Norwegian women have one of the world’s highest incidence rates of the colon and rectal cancer. However, we are finally seeing a leveling off in the incidence rates of these cancers.

Among children (0-14 years of age) cancer in the central nervous system and leukemia are the most common. They represent 54 and 59 per cent of all cancer cases in boys and girls, respectively.

In males aged 15-49 years testicular cancer is most common, but prostate cancer is most common in middle aged and older men.

Cancer in the central nervous system is the most common cancer type in young women 15-24 years old.

In the age group 25-69 years breast cancer is most common, and among the oldest women (70+)colon cancer is more common than breast cancer.


This year’s statistics confirm a trend we have seen earlier: Survival continues to increase. At the end of 2010 about 207 000 Norwegians were alive after having had at least one cancer diagnosis at one point in time. This is an increase of more than 60 000 individuals since 2000.

There is an improved survival in all the major cancers: breast, prostate, lung, and colorectal cancer. This increase is partially due to improved treatment over time, but is probably predominantly due to screening.  Increased attention to cancer in the population as well as among health care providers may also play a role.

Relative Survival

Relative survival is the probability of a cancer patient’s survival if other causes of death are excluded.

From the period 2001-2005 to 2006-2010 the relative survival increased from:

  • 86 to 89 per cent for breast cancer in women
  • 80 to 89 per cent for prostate cancer
  • 13 to 16 per cent for lung cancer in women
  • 9 to 12 per cent for lung cancer in men
  • 64 to 66 per cent for rectum cancer in women
  • 58 to 64 per cent for rectum cancer in men
  • 57 to 63 per cent for colon cancer in women
  • 55 to 61 per cent for colon cancer in men

The probability of developing cancer before the age of 75 is 35 per cent in men and 28 per cent in women.