BACKGROUND: We aimed to study the time trends underlying a change from cardiovascular disease (CVD) to cancer as the most common cause of age-standardized mortality in the UK between 1983 and 2013.
METHODS: A retrospective trend analysis of the World Health Organization mortality database for mortality from all cancers, all CVDs, and their three most common types, by sex and age. Age-standardized mortality rates were adjusted to the 2013 European Standard Population and analyzed using joinpoint regression analysis for annual percent changes.
RESULTS: The difference in mortality rate between total CVD and cancer narrowed over the study period as age-standardized mortality from CVD decreased more steeply than cancer in both sexes. We observed higher overall rates for both diseases in men compared to women, with high mortality rates from ischemic heart disease and lung cancer in men. Joinpoint regression analysis indicated that trends of decreasing rates of CVD have increased over time while decreasing trends in cancer mortality rates have slowed down since the 1990s. The lowest improvements in mortality rates were for cancer in those over 75 years of age and lung cancer in women.
CONCLUSIONS: In 2011, the age-standardized mortality rate for cancer exceeded that of CVD in both sexes in the UK. These changing trends in mortality may support evidence for changes in policy and resource allocation in the UK.