Cancer in China: Survival Rate Much Lower Than In Developed Countries

Cancer in China: Survival Rate Much Lower Than In Developed Countries
Nov 11, 2014 Translated by

Editor’s note: This article, translated from Wenxue City, discusses the latest official data related to cancer rates in China. It is no secret that cancer rates in China are worryingly high, with many experts attributing the high rates to pollution and changing lifestyles. According to the WHO, in 2012 China bore the brunt of new cancer cases and deaths in the world.

The latest findings are cause for even more concern: not only does China have one of the highest cancer rates in the world, the cancer survival rate also lags far behind developed nations. The below article only briefly touches upon the reasons for this – namely China’s inferior medical treatment and research – but let’s hope that with the growing demand for world class medical treatment and measures, this alarming trend will slow down in the future.


The number of cancer patients in China has continuously increased while the nation’s low survivor rates are proving to be worrying. A recent analysis of data related to cancer survival was recently published, which shows that China’s five year cancer survival rate was only 30.9 percent. This number is far below the rates of developed countries. On top of this, the survival rate in China for patients in rural areas is only about 50 percent.

The data in the study was taken from the China National Cancer Registry and the Cancer Prevention and Control Office. The statistics came from 17 cities with cancer registries, including Beijing and Dalian. The survey includes a total of 139,000 cases. The patients within the cases were diagnosed between 2003 and 2005 and had follow-ups until the end of 2010.

Through this data, researchers found that the average five year survival rate for Chinese cancer patients is 30.9 percent. The survival rate for Chinese female cancer patients is substantially higher than male patients. Urban patients are almost twice as likely to survive (with a survival rate of 39.5 percent) than patients living in rural areas (21.8 percent survival rate). The statistics also vary for different kinds of cancer. Patients with 26 types of cancer were included in the survey. Researchers found that female patients with breast cancer had the highest survival rate (73.0 percent) followed by colon cancer (47.2 percent) and stomach cancer (27.4 percent). Those with lung cancer and liver cancer had a lower rate of survival at 16.1 percent and 10.1 percent respectively.

Cancer survival rate disparities between China and developed nations

There is a large gap in rates of survival between China, and Western countries including European nations and the United States. Associate researcher at China’s Cancer Registration Center Zhang Siwei said that the overall survival rate is much higher for patients in developed countries. In the United States, the five year survival rate for all cancers is about 70 percent. This is about 40 percent higher than the overall rate in China.

Zhang Siwei noted that the survival rate of cancer patients is closely related to the level of related scientific medical research. In this field, China lags behind developed countries. In addition, the health of the average Chinese person is different than the health of those in European countries and different types of cancer are more common in China than in other countries. These factors also led to the difference in survival rate.

Cancers including lung cancer, stomach cancer and liver cancer are more common in China. These cancers are difficult to diagnose and difficult to treat. Western countries also have better early detection methods and treatment for breast cancer and prostate cancer.

Zhang Siwei said that there are many reasons for the increasing numbers of stomach and liver cancer cases within China. The lives of Chinese people have increasingly improved and become more comfortable. However, this means that more people have bad habits like overeating, smoking, and drinking. China’s pollution also increases the risk for cancer.

Overall, the amount of valid data in China regarding the survival rate of cancer patients is still relatively small, said Zhang Siwei. While analyzing the current available data, Zhang found that the registration of cancer cases had been occurring since the 1960s; however to date, there are no more 40 cancer registration offices in the country able to provide valid data. “Out of these offices, very few have follow-up capabilities.”

The new report claims to be China’s largest analysis of cancer survival data. However, the representative sample within the report is still very limited. Zhang Siwei noted that much of the data was from registries within southeast China. He said that further research must be done for patients in central and western China in order to get a more accurate picture of the survival rates of Chinese cancer patients.



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Keywords: cancer patients in China cancer survival rate China cancer in China


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Unsurprising, unless the human body is designed to survive on cardboard baozi and ET beef .....

Nov 19, 2014 11:34 Report Abuse



The worry about high cancer rates is relevant. But the worry about low cancer survival rates isn't. Because survival rates are a highly deceptive concept that has no meaningful association with mortality rates, yet because it, falsely, makes orthodox cancer interventions look more beneficial than what they're really are the medical industry and those who don't understand these statistics (most people don't, including most doctors) have been using them as a convincing advertising tool for their products (read the afterword of this article on the war on cancer: do a search engine query for "A Mammogram Letter The British Medical Journal Censored". Focusing on China's rising social-ecological issues would do multiple time more good in terms of cancer than a focus on "early detection and treatment" for cancer. But that's unlikely to happen because the big profits are in the latter approach ...

Nov 12, 2014 08:35 Report Abuse



Another conspiracy theorist.... it's true that the survival rate statistic can be misleading when cancers recur past five years and prove to be fatal but your line of reasoning is very dangerous. There have been immense strides made against cancer and early detection is extremely important in many cases. Look at some of the most common cancers: breast cancer, prostate cancer and skin cancer... yea most can be cured easily when caught early and fatal when caught late. And how can you say that the low survival rates in China don't matter? Even if the statistic is not perfect wouldn't that suggest that cancer treatments in China are lagging behind those in the rest of the world?

Nov 12, 2014 20:31 Report Abuse



This is disturbing although not really surprising. We can expect the cancer epidemic to get much worse with the food safety and pollution. China needs to develop a comprehensive national strategy to attack this problem on all fronts: early detection, better treatment, less pollution, safer food.

Nov 11, 2014 11:00 Report Abuse