We examined changing patterns in cancer incidence and deaths in diabetes compared to the background population. A total of 457,473 patients with type 2 diabetes, included between 1998 and 2014, were matched on age, sex, and county to five controls from the population. Incidence, trends in incidence and post-cancer mortality for cancer were estimated with Cox regression and standardised incidence rates. Causes of death were estimated using logistic regression. Relative importance of risk factors was estimated using Heller's relative importance model. Type 2 diabetes had a higher risk for all cancer, HR 1.10 (95% CI 1.09-1.12), with highest HRs for liver (3.31), pancreas (2.19) and uterine cancer (1.78). There were lesser increases in risk for breast (1.05) and colorectal cancers (1.20). Type 2 diabetes patients experienced a higher HR 1.23 (1.21-1.25) of overall post-cancer mortality and mortality from prostate, breast, and colorectal cancers. By the year 2030 cancer could become the most common cause of death in type 2 diabetes. Persons with type 2 diabetes are at greater risk of developing cancer and lower chance of surviving it. Notably, hazards for specific cancers (e.g. liver, pancreas) in type 2 patients cannot be explained by obesity alone.