To better explore the concentration of polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs) in the sediments of the Yangtze River Estuary (YRE), 16 priority PAHs were analyzed based on sampling data obtained in February 2011. The results showed that the total concentrations of PAHs in sediments of the YRE varied from 65.07 to 668.98ng.g-1. The results of toxic equivalent quantities of benzo[a]pyrene and the sediment quality guideline quotient suggested that PAHs had little or no adverse effects on the environment. The cancer risk results showed that the cancer risk at all sites exceeded 10-6, with 73% of sites exceeding 10-4, suggesting that people remain at risk of cancer as a result of their exposure to carcinogenic PAHs. However, the result of hazard index results showed that the non-cancer risks were substantially lower than one, indicating that PAHs in these sediments likely pose little or no adverse health threats to local inhabitants.