Taipei, June 15 (CNA) The number of deaths from cancer hit a new high in Taiwan in 2017 -- while also remaining the top cause of death for the past 36 years, the Ministry of Health and Welfare (MOHW) said Friday.
For the first time, deaths from cancer exceeded 48,000, reaching 48,037 last year, representing a record 28 percent of the 171,857 deaths recorded in the year and an increase of 277 deaths from 2016, ministry tallies show.
The total number of deaths -- 101,686 male and 70,l71 female -- reflect a fall of 561, or 0.3 percent, from 2016.
The figure translates into 471 deaths per day, or one death every three minutes and three seconds -- the same as 2016, the ministry said.
The leading 10 causes of death in Taiwan in 2017 were malignant tumors, heart-related illnesses, pneumonia, cerebrovascular disease, diabetes mellitus, accidents, chronic lower respiratory disease, hypertensive illness, nephritis, nephrotic syndrome and nephrosis, chronic liver disease and cirrhosis -- the same as in 2016, according to the ministry.
Deaths from the top 10 causes made up 76.8 percent of the total deaths in 2017.
In terms of age at death, 123,543 people aged over 65, or 71.9 percent of the total, died last year, up 1,287 over 2016, with those aged over 85 increasing the fastest.
In 2017, lung, liver and colon cancer were the deadliest, rounded up by breast, oral, prostate, stomach, pancreatic, esophageal and cervical cancer.
The first nine deadliest cancers remained the same as in 2016, with cervical cancer replacing ovarian cancer in 10th spot, the ministry noted.
It added that deaths from breast and prostate cancer increased in 2017 and deaths from pancreatic and esophageal cancer remained stable, while deaths from other types of cancer decreased.
Chen Jun-chiu (陳潤秋), deputy director-general of the MOHW's Health Promotion Administration, said there are no effective tools to detect lung cancer in the early stages, while attributing the increase in deaths from prostate and breast cancer to aging and environmental factors, respectively.
Some 84 percent of the people who died from cancer last year were older than 55, the ministry said. Deaths from cancer grew the fastest in the age group above 85, which recorded an increase of 493 deaths, followed by the 65-74 bracket, which saw 253 more deaths last year.