The combined factors of improper diet and stress have increased the incidence of
some highly fatal cancers in China, including colorectal and pancreatic
During recent medical conferences,experts reported alarming growth of some
forms of cancer and called on the public to guard against the diseases by
changing unhealthy lifestyles and ensuring early detection.
The major killer
The Ministry of Health reported early this year that cancer has become the
leading killer of Chinese. Cancer deaths have increased 29 per cent over the
last 20 years.
In Shanghai, colorectal cancer has become the most fatal cancer after lung
cancer, surgeons reported at the Second International Colorectal Cancer Forum on
In 20 0 0, the cancer was reported to have hit 40.8 Shanghai residents in
every 10 0,0 0 0.Its incidence rate has increased by 4.2 per cent each year.
"The cancer incidence rate in Shanghai, Beijing and Guangzhou almost equals
that in Western countries,but the growth is twice the global figure," said Dr Xu
Xinyu of Zhongshan Hospital.
The same is true of pancreatic cancer,the most risky malignant tumour of the
Pancreatic cancer hits about 10 in every 100,000 people, foreign medical
journals report.China's statistics are not available.
"We have seen the number of patients diagnosed with pancreatic cancer
increase year by year around the country," said Professor Zhao Yupei, president
of the Chinese Society of Surgery under the Chinese Medical Association, during
the 11th China Pancreatic Surgery Conference held early this month in West
China's Qinghai Province.
The Beijing-based Peking Union Medical College Hospital reported that the
number of pancreatic cancer patients admitted to the hospital is six times
greater than five decades ago.
"A particular feature of the cancer is the significant increase in the number
of young adult patients in recent years, for whom the cancer is more malignant
and medical intervention is less successful," said Professor Zhao.
On average, pancreatic cancer patients survive less than six months; less
than 1 per cent of patients survive five years. No more than 20 per cent of
patients can undergo surgery,the most effective therapy currently available to
treat the cancer.
Early detection and prevention
Surgeons attribute the high mortality rate to the features of the pancreatic
cancer: it's hard to detect and cancer cells spread to other areas quickly. But
poor awareness of the public is the leading cause.
"About 85 per cent of patients fail to be diagnosed until pancreatic cancer
develops to the late stage," said Professor Zhao, stressing the importance of
early detection and prevention.
"If the cancer can be detected when the tumour is less than 1 centimetres,
about 80 per cent of patients are expected to survive for five years."
However, most pancreatic cancer patients with early symptoms are
with stomach or gallbladder problems. "If people have pain in
the upper abdominal area, and possibilities of other diseases are ruled out they
should consider the pancreas and take further checks," said surgeon Yu Conghui
at the Hepatobiliary Department at the General Hospital of Beijing Military
Professor Xu said that many colorectal cancer patients mistakenly assume
their problem is hemorrhoids at the early stage."Given timely treatment at the
early stage,the five-year survival rate of colorectal cancer patients would
reach more than 70 per cent," said Xu.
Experts say the increase in cancer is closely connected to the environment
and unhealthy lifestyles.
Pancreatic cancer is closely related with high alcohol consumption and
excessive intake of food rich in protein and fat. "Many patients like drinking
bowls of liquor and take a large amount of beef and mutton, which are very risky
factors," said Professor Wu Xinmin, president of Qinghai People's Hospital.
Medical experts recommend that people quit smoking, eat more vegetables and
fruit rich in fibre and take physical exercise. For people over 40 years old,
especially those with a family history of cancer, a health check every year is