UK Cancer e-Atlas – Guide

The aim of the UK cancer e-Atlas is to provide a way to view cancer incidence and mortality by locality, UK constituencies and at national level. It provides the public, health care professionals, commissioners and health service managers with basic cancer information for the main types of cancer in males, females and persons. It is an interactive tool which uses maps, charts and data tables to display the information for the area of the UK you are interested in at looking at.

The 2012 Health and Social Care act reformed the way that health care is commissioned in England. As a result, Strategic Health Authorities (SHAs) and Primary Care Trusts (PCTs) no longer exist. These have been replaced by strategic Clinical Networks (SCNs) and Clinical Commissioning Groups (CCGs). Cancer Networks were also abolished as part of the NHS re-structure.

The NCIN are working to produce latest cancer incidence, mortality and survival data by the new SCNs and CCGs.  In the meantime, the “Cancer e-Atlas by NHS health boundaries” has been updated to show cancer incidence and mortality for 2008-2010 and 2009-2011 respectively.

The Cancer e-Atlas by cancer network is still available but has not been updated and therefore the latest incidence and mortality data are for 2006-2008 and 2007-2009 respectively. New versions of the e-Atlas, which will include the new health boundaries in England, will be produced towards the end of 2014.

The "Cancer e-Atlas by NHS health boundaries" displays cancer statistics by Primary Care Trusts (PCTs) for England and NHS/Health Boards for Scotland and Northern Ireland as well as national and UK constituency statistics.

The cancer statistics are extracted from the UK Cancer Information Service (UKCIS) database. The cancer incidence statistics are based on patients diagnosed in 2008-2010 (source: cancer registries). The cancer mortality data are based on people that died from cancer in 2009-2011 (source: ONS).

This guide provides advice on Using and navigating the Cancer e-Atlas which explains the different sections and functions on the tool and a Guide to the statistics which provides some detail about the statistics in the cancer e-atlas including definitions, sources and advice on how to use the data. It also advises on other useful sources of cancer statistics.

Using and Navigating the Cancer e-Atlas

The interactive cancer e-Atlas screen is split into five main sections.

  1. Tool facilities
  2. A UK map allowing selection of localities
  3. A data display area
  4. A notes section describing each measurement in detail
  5. A bar chart allowing comparisons between localities

Each section is described in more detail below.


Section 1: Tool Facilities

The titles at the top left hand corner of the screen describe the information that is being displayed.

A locality can be selected by name clicking on the button called "Select localities" above the UK map. Clicking this will show a list of locality options. Select the locality of interest and then click the "Select localities" button again to hide the list. Alternatively you can select a locality by clicking on the map itself (see 'A UK map allowing selection of a locality' section below).

You can compare up to 3 localities by pressing the control (Ctrl) key on your keyboard and then clicking with the mouse on locality in the list or on the map. This loads other sets of data so you can directly compare one locality to another.


Options are also provided to print and save the screen being displayed. Please note, to print the selected atlas it is advisable to go to the 'Printer preference' option and then select the following settings in the 'Page Setup' section:


You are also given the option to go to a related Cancer e-Atlas and to download all of the data in an Excel format ('Export data' button).

Section 2: A UK map allowing selection of a locality

To show data for a particular locality you can also select the area or areas you want to look at using the map. Move the mouse over the map, the name of each locality will be shown next to the mouse pointer and its location will be highlighted in purple. Clicking the mouse will highlight that area on the map and the data will be shown in the data table and bar chart sections. Once clicked, the cancer locality will remain highlighted as the mouse moves over the rest of the map.

As already mentioned, you can compare up to 3 areas by pressing the control (Ctrl) key on your keyboard and then clicking with the mouse on the map. This loads other sets of data so you can directly compare one locality to another.

To view UK, England, Scotland, Wales or Northern Ireland data click on mini UK map.


In some parts of the country there are localities crowded together. To help find a particular locality you can zoom into the map by clicking the '+' symbol located at the top left of the map. To zoom out again click the '-' and to view the full UK map click the magnifying glass.


You can also drag the zoom bar up and down for fine scale work. Once zoomed in, the map can be dragged around the screen by holding down the left mouse button and moving the mouse in the required direction.

Section 3: A data display area

The data display area (tabulation) shows the information for the selected locality. Click on a cancer type name (highlighted in green) to select the cancer you are interested in. A list of the cancer statistics for that cancer will appear in the data table.


To view the statistics of interest click on the measurements in the data table, and the data will also be displayed in the bar chart and an explanation of the data will be provided in the bottom left of the screen. Use the scroll bar on the right of the data table to see more data.

To expand and collapse list of cancer types, click on the "-" or "+" symbols (below the data table)

The data display area is split into five columns of data and a chart display.

The first column shows the title of the measurement e.g the cancer type header, incidence, mortality survival.

The second column shows the locality to which the measurement and data refers.

The third, fourth and fifth columns gives the values of the measurement for the relevant area. For information about the data being displayed go to the "A guide to the statistics" section below.

Section 4: Notes area

Selecting the data by clicking it with the mouse will display an explanation of the data in the notes box at the bottom right of the screen. This will include brief details of the data being displayed and how it should be interpreted.

Section 5: A bar chart allowing comparisons between localities

When a measurement for a locality is selected, the bar chart will show the values for other localities. The selected locality will be highlighted in purple and moving the mouse over the chart will show the names and data value for other cancer localities.


The chart displays values (the incidence/mortality rates) for all the localities in ascending data order. The confidence intervals (95%) are provided on the bars. The blue horizontal line is the UK average. For more information on the statistics and confidence intervals please refer to "A guide to the statistics" section below.

From within the e-Atlas it is possible to download a spreadsheet of all the data contained within the e-atlas.

A guide to the statistics

This section of the guide provides information on the statistics that are included in the Cancer e-Atlas, including definitions, sources and advice on how to use the data. All of the data in the Cancer e-Atlas can be downloaded (click 'Export data' button).

What cancer types are included in the Cancer e-Atlas?

The cancer sites provided in the Cancer e-Atlas by NHS health boundaries along with their corresponding international classification of diseases (ICD10) codes are:

All cancers: All malignant neoplasms (excluding non-melanoma skin cancer) C00-C97 excluding C44
Bladder: C67 Colorectal: C18-C20 Non-Hodgkin lymphoma: C82-C85+C96 Prostate: C61
Brain: C71 Kidney: C64 Oesophagus: C15 Stomach: C16
Breast: C50 Lung:C33-C34 Ovary: C56-C574 Uterus: C54-C55
Cervix: C53 Melanoma: C43 Pancreas: C25  

Geographical data displayed in the Cancer e-Atlas

Occasionally PCTs merge but the Cancer e-Atlas reflects PCTs as of March 2013.

The Shetland, Orkney and Western Isles statistics have been omitted from the Cancer e-Atlas due to small numbers.

Cancer incidence

Cancer incidence is the number of new cases of cancer diagnosed for a given period. The cancer incidence statistics in the Cancer e-Atlas show the number and the rate of new cases of cancer diagnosed per year (which is an annual average for patients diagnosed in 2006-8).

Number of cases (No.cases column): The average number of newly diagnosed cases of cancer per year. This is the annual average for 2008-2010.

Rate (Rate/% column): Cancer incidence rates are the number of newly diagnosed cases of cancer per 100,000 population. The incidence rates displayed are age-standardised.

What are age-standardised rates?

Age-standardised rates take into account the variation in the age structures of populations. For example, Dorset has a higher proportion of elderly people than London. Cancer is much more common in the elderly, so a more elderly population will in general have a higher incidence of cancer. The age-standardised rates adjust for age to allow comparisons between different areas to be made.

The directly age-standardised rates are calculated by taking the age-specific crude rates and applying them to the age distribution of a hypothetical population (in this case, the European Standard Population).

UK average (UK avge column): This is the age-standardised rate for the UK.

Significance symbols (the coloured symbol by the locality rate): This indicates whether the age-standardised rate for the locality is significantly different to the UK average. This measure uses a statistical test using confidence intervals (for more info see “bar chart” section below). A blue square shows that the locality rate is significantly lower than the UK average; a yellow circle shows that locality rate is significantly higher than the UK average; and a purple diamond shows that the locality rate is not significantly different to the UK average.

Horizontal bar chart: This shows the locality age-standardised rate compared to the UK rate (the blue vertical line).


Bar chart (bottom left hand corner of the screen): This chart shows that range of age-standardised rates across the localities. Each bar displays the confidence interval range. The lowest rates are shaded in the lightest blue colour, the highest are in the darkest blue.


What are confidence intervals?

For the age-standardised rate and survival estimates, a 95% confidence interval is given. Confidence intervals are used as a measure of uncertainty in the estimated proportions. The upper and lower limits of the interval show how big a contribution chance may have made to a particular statistic. The 95% confidence intervals quoted give the range in which the proportion in question would fall 19 times out of 20, were it possible to repeat the analysis.

Incidence data Source: UKCIS. The incidence data are provided via the regional Cancer Registries (who are now part pf Public Health England) who collect data relating to each new diagnosis of cancer that occurs in their resident populations. This does not include secondary cancers or recurrences. Data are reported according to the calendar year in which the cancer was diagnosed.

Cancer mortality

Cancer mortality is the number of people who have died from a particular type of cancer. The statistics show the number and the rate of cancer deaths per year (which is an annual average for 2009-2011). Please also see the cancer incidence section above for more information about age-standardised rates, confidence intervals and how to interpret the statistics.

Number of cases (No.deaths column): – The number of deaths from cancer per year. This is the annual average for 2009-2011.

Rate and UK average (Rate/% & UK avge columns): Cancer mortality rates are the number of deaths from cancer per 100,000 population. The mortality rates displayed in Cancer e-Atlas are age-standardised (for an age-standardised rate definition, please see the incidence section above). Rates are provided for the selected locality and for the UK.

Source: UKCIS. Mortality data are provided by the Office for National Statistics (ONS) and relate to all deaths registered with cancer mentioned as an underlying cause of death.

What is the UKCIS?

The cancer statistics are extracted from the UK Cancer Information Service (UKCIS) database, using the latest data available. UKCIS offers secure and timely information on cancer incidence, mortality and survival. UKCIS is a national web-based reporting tool, running across the NHS national network, providing the user access to cancer information for their area. To use the UKCIS you must be registered and connected to the NHS network. For more information please see

Any questions?

If you have questions about the Cancer e-Atlas or about cancer statistics/information please contact the NCIN at enquiries at ncin dot link