Cancer was the most common broad cause of death in England and Wales last year, according to the latest data from the Office of National Statistics.

The disease accounted for 28 percent of all registered deaths last year, followed closely by circulatory diseases such as heart diseases and stroke, which accounted for 26 percent.

The figures also show that the total number of registered deaths in England and Wales grew 5.6 percent in 2015 to 529,655, which is the largest annual percentage increase since the 6.3 percent rise recorded between 1967 and 1968.

The rise in the number of deaths, which is affected by the size and age structure of the population, is to be expected given that people are tending to live longer, leading to the population increasing in both size and age over time, the ONS said.

Notably, mortality rates (deaths per thousand of population) for respiratory diseases (including flu) increased notably for both males and females, rising 9.7 percent and 13 percent from the prior year.

Those for cancer dipped -1.2 percent and - 0.9 percent, respectively, and for circulatory disease they stayed level in men and grew 1.1 percent in women.

Emma Greenwood, Cancer Research UK's head of policy, said the figures "are a powerful reminder of the scale of death caused by cancer in England and Wales".

"Great progress has been made in improving cancer survival, which has doubled in the past forty years. But far too many people still die from the disease and this report shows that we've still got a lot more to do to save lives".