China faces challenge from rising cancer cases

Volunteers shape like a human lung. Thousands of volunteers formed the shape of a giant human lung at the Garden Expo in the Fengtai district in Beijing on Sunday, Nov 15, 2015 setting a Guinness World Record.
PHOTO: China Daily/ANN

Cancer has gradually become a national public health challenge that affected on average 12,000 Chinese and killed 7,500 every day last year, according to a new report.

There were an estimated 4.3 million new cancer diagnoses in the country last year and 2.8 million deaths, researchers said in the report CA: A Cancer Journal for Clinicians, published on behalf of the American Cancer Society.

In 2012, when figures were last released, there were an estimated 3.12 million new diagnoses and 2.7 million deaths.

The latest report was led by Chen Wanqing, director of the Chinese National Central Cancer Registry at the National Health and Family Planning Commission.

It was based on data from 72 local cancer registries between 2009 and 2011, representing 6.5 per cent of the population.

Chen said cancer cases are expected to continue rising in China, citing increased environmental risk factors such as smoking, infections and exposure to water and air pollution.

Smoking led to more than 20 per cent of the preventable cancer cases in China and accounted for 25 per cent of all cancer deaths, the report said.

The most prevalent forms were lung, stomach, liver and esophageal cancers, accounting for 57 per cent of the total.

The most common forms affecting men were lung, stomach, esophageal, liver and colorectal cancers. Among women, breast cancer was the most prevalent, accounting for 15 per cent of new cases, followed by lung, stomach, colorectal and esophageal cancers.

Worldwide, nearly 22 per cent of the new cancer cases and 27 per cent of the deaths occurred in China, according to the World Health Organisation.

Bernhard Schwartländer, the WHO representative in China, said preventable cancers account for nearly 60 per cent of the nation's cases.

Many of the cases are linked to unhealthy lifestyles, he said, urging the Chinese government to recognise the challenge and intervene - "primarily with smoking controls."