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Cancer top cause of death in Taiwan for 42nd consecutive year

06/17/2024 06:21 PM
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A free health check and cancer screening event in Taipei. CNA file photo
A free health check and cancer screening event in Taipei. CNA file photo

Taipei, June 17 (CNA) Cancer remained the No. 1 cause of death in Taiwan in 2023 for the 42nd consecutive year, with lung, liver and colon cancer the most common types, the Ministry of Health and Welfare (MOHW) said on Monday.

Last year, 53,126 people died of cancer, accounting for 25.8 percent of the total 205,575 deaths, the MOHW said in a statement. Around 87 percent of those who died from cancer were over 55.

These statistics mean a person died of cancer every nine minutes and 53 seconds in 2023. This is more frequently than the one person every ten minutes and 7 seconds logged in 2022. The cancer mortality rate also rose by 2.2 percent year-on-year to reach 227.6 people per 100,000 in 2023, it said.

The 10 most common types of cancer were lung cancer, liver cancer, colon cancer, breast cancer, prostate cancer, oral cancer, pancreatic cancer, stomach cancer, esophageal cancer and ovarian cancer. This is the same as in 2022.

The total of 205,575 deaths in 2023 marked a drop of 2,683 year-on-year, or 1.4 percent, which was mainly attributed to a fall in deaths from COVID-19, data showed.

In terms of the cause of death, COVID-19 moved down three places from third in 2022 to sixth in 2023, according to the data.

Health Promotion Administration Deputy Director-General Chia Shu-li (center). CNA photo June 17, 2024
Health Promotion Administration Deputy Director-General Chia Shu-li (center). CNA photo June 17, 2024

Meanwhile, the other nine leading causes of death last year were heart disease (second), pneumonia (third), cerebrovascular diseases (fourth), diabetes (fifth), high blood-pressure-related diseases (seventh), accidents (eighth), chronic lower respiratory diseases (ninth), and nephritis/nephrotic syndrome/kidney diseases (10th).

By age, accidents were the No. 1 cause of death for those in the under 25 age group, while cancer remained top for those above 25, Lu Shu-chun (呂淑君), a section chief from the MOHW's Department of Statistics, told a news conference.

Health Promotion Administration (HPA) Deputy Director-General Chia Shu-li (賈淑麗) noted that the standardized mortality ratio of cancer -- the ratio of observed number of deaths to the number of deaths that would be expected -- was down by 16.4 per 100,000 people in 2023 from a decade ago.

However, she said the HPA would continue to promote the prevention of cancer, particularly cervical cancer, breast cancer, colon cancer, oral cancer and lung cancer.

Last year, 4.87 million adults took part in HPA-funded cancer screening tests nationwide, with 88.9 percent of nearly 64,400 -- those who tested positive or showed symptoms -- returning for follow-up appointments at the hospital, proof that early checks for signs of cancer before symptoms occur can help reduce the risk of illness and death, she noted.

(By Flor Wang and Chen Chieh-ling)

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