Cancer rates on the rise

By Liu Zhihua ( China Daily ) Updated: 2014-04-09 09:21:39

Cancer rates on the rise

Lung cancer is the No 1 killer in Hutou village in the coal-mining area in Xuanwei, Yunnan province. [Photo by Huang Xingneng / For China Daily]

Cancer rates on the rise

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Cancer rates on the rise

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Poor diagnosis and a lack of trained medical staff are barriers to the proper treatment. Liu Zhihua reports on the illness which has seen a spike in cases over the past decade.

When Zhang Qing started to work at the Beijing Hospital of Traditional Chinese Medicine in the early 1990s, "cancer" was a strange word to most people. Many could not tell the difference between a tumor and a cancer, recalls the oncologist.

Now the situation has changed.

"Everyone knows about cancer, and everyone is frightened by the word," Zhang says. "People think cancer means death."

The doctor has witnessed a rapid increase in cancer patients at the hospital in recent decades.

The world registered 14 million new cancer cases and 8.2 million deaths in 2012, and the numbers for China were 3.07 million and 2.2 million respectively, according to the World Cancer Report 2014, released by the World Health Organization earlier this year.

China accounted for about 22 percent of the world's new cancer cases in 2012 and 27 percent of cancer deaths globally.

The figures released by China's authorities are even higher.

In early 2013, an annual report issued by the National Central Cancer Registry estimated there were 3.12 million new cancer cases and 2 million cancer deaths annually on the Chinese mainland, which means one death from cancer every six minutes.

The figures were based on data collected for 2009 in 2012 from 72 cancer surveillance sites in 24 provinces, covering 85 million people.

The latest data states that China had 3.09 million new cancer cases in 2010, and about 1.96 million deaths, according to Chen Wanqing, deputy director with the National Central Cancer Registry.

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