The situation in China
According to the International Agency on Research on Cancer's (IARC)*, estimated cancer incidence (new cases) in men, in 2008:
- 21.7% of adult men had lung cancer
- 19.5% of adult men had stomach cancer
- 18.1% of adult men had liver cancer
- 10.8% of adult men had oesphageal cancer
- 7.7% of adult men had colorectal cancer
Estimated cancer incidence (new cases) in women, in 2008:
- 14.3% of women had lung cancer
- 14.2% of women had breast cancer
- 12.4% of women had stomach cancer
- 9.1% of women had liver cancer
- 8.0% of women had colorectal cancer
*Globocan database; available at: http://globocan.iarc.fr
In 2011, cancer accounted for 169.2/ 100,000 adult, urban deaths in China, surpassing all other illnesses and making it the leading cause of death.
Modifying and avoiding risk factors
There are many risk factors for cancer that can be modified:
- Smoking tobacco: stop smoking and avoid secondhand smoke.
- Being overweight (BMI 25-29.9) or obese (BMI >30): achieve a BMI of <25. The third is a low intake of fruits and vegetables; eat 5 + servings a day.
- A lack of physical activity: engage in 30 minutes of moderate physical activity on most days of the week.
- Excessive alcohol use: limit drinking to recommended guidelines.
- Human papillomavirus and hepatitis B virus: get vaccinated per recommendations based on age.
- Urban air pollution: avoid fumes and heavily polluted areas. To date, there is no data to support wearing a mask to keep out 2.5 nm particles.
- Indoor smoke from household use of solid fuels: avoid this or follow regulations.
- Sunlight: wear at least 30 SPF sunscreen, avoid sun exposure, and cover your body as much as possible when in the sunlight.
Cancer mortality can be reduced if cases are detected and treated early. There are two components of early detection efforts:
- Early diagnosis
- The awareness of early signs and symptoms (such as cervical, breast and oral cancers) in order to facilitate diagnosis and treatment before the disease becomes advanced.
- Early diagnosis programmes are particularly relevant in low-resource settings where the majority of patients are diagnosed in very late stages.
- The systematic application of a screening test in an asymptomatic population. It aims to identify individuals with abnormalities suggestive of a specific cancer or pre-cancer and refer them promptly for diagnosis and treatment.
- Screening programmes are especially effective for frequent cancer types that have a screening test that is cost-effective, affordable, acceptable and accessible to the majority of the population at risk.
What is being done in China?
- In 2012, China plans to inaugurate the National Cancer Center at Cancer Institute and Hospital and Chinese Academy of Medical Sciences in Beijing, to enhance the country's capacity for prevention, early screening and treatment of the disease.
- In 2012, there were 193 cancer registries.
- An early screening and treatment program was launched in 2006 for major cancers among the high risk populations in high risk localities and $50 million funded for cancer screening in urban area in 2012.
In 2008, WHO launched its Noncommunicable Diseases Action Plan which includes cancer-specific interventions.
In 2012, China launched its NCD plan ("China National Plan for NCD Prevention and Treatment (2012-2015)" which includes conducting early detection and treatment of key cancers in 30% of cancer-prone areas as an objective.
WHO and the International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC), the specialized cancer research agency of WHO, collaborate with other United Nations organizations and partners to:
- increase the political commitment for cancer prevention and control;
- coordinate and conduct research on the causes of cancer and the mechanisms of carcinogenesis;
- develop scientific strategies for cancer prevention and control;
- generate new knowledge, and disseminate existing knowledge to facilitate the delivery of evidence-based approaches to cancer control;
- develop standards and tools to guide the planning and implementation of interventions for prevention, early detection, treatment and care;
- facilitate broad networks of cancer control partners and experts at global, regional and national levels;
- strengthen health systems at national and local levels to deliver cure and care for cancer patients; and
- provide technical assistance for rapid, effective transfer of best practice interventions to developing countries.