Cancer is the most commonly diagnosed disease and is among the top ten causes of death worldwide and also in China. It has long been a major health issue in China. According to the National Library of Medicine (NIH), China is estimated to have approximately 4,820,000 new cancer cases and 3,210,000 cancer deaths in 2022.

As reported on the Q&A platform Zhihu, news that an elderly man with advanced cancer was blocked by a staff member on the way to the hospital caused widespread discussion on Weibo. 

According to Zhihu, the man was on the way to Zibo Central Hospital for treatment. But he was stopped and asked for the certificate to prove that he was “waiting to die.”

What do netizens say? 

Many netizens felt indignant after watching the video on Weibo.

A user commented that the one-size-fits-all policy harms the people’s official prestige and disregards people’s lives.

Another user said staff must take into account humanity. Otherwise, there will be such a seemingly ridiculous situation. Meanwhile, according to other users, the one-size-fits-all policy seems convenient just for the Chinese government.

The story shows what Chinese cancer patients are going through under the COVID pandemic and how the government is dealing with it. 

The following are some facts about cancer in some regions in China. 

Lung cancer mortality in Shandong Province from 1970 to 2013

In China, there are five types of common cancer: gastric, colorectal, liver, lung, and breast cancer. But the most common cancer is lung cancer. 

Xinhua net reported in 2020 that new lung cancer cases were about 787,000, and the number of deaths was about 631,000 each year.

The NIH issued a report entitled “Lung cancer mortality clusters in Shandong Province, China: how do they change over 40 years?”. As mentioned in the report, Shandong is also one of the provinces in China with the highest rate of increase in lung cancer mortality. 

As displayed on the current cancer maps, from 1970 to 1974, the northern areas of Shandong Province had a higher lung cancer mortality rate than the southern areas. 

From 1970 to 1974, there were 7.22 per 100,000 people. However, from 2011 to 2013, there were around 56 per 100,000.

Shandong’s northern region recorded the highest mortality rates. 

It included some counties in the cities of Dongying, Weifang, Zibo, Jinan, Yantai, and Qingdao.

As Zhihu reported, other regions highly impacted by lung cancer are Heilongjiang, Chongqing, Yunnan, Liaoning, and Anhui.

In another report by the NIH, the estimated economic burden of lung cancer would be 40.4 billion dollars in 2025, and 53.4 billion dollars in 2030. 

Stomach cancer

According to research published on ResearchGate, China accounted for about two-thirds of all stomach cancer cases.

The Oxford Population Health reported that gastric cancer is the second biggest cause of cancer death worldwide, accounting for approximately 770,000 fatalities in 2020. China accounts for 478,000 cases, meaning more than half of the global burden of the disease.

As reported by the Chinese government, the number of new gastric cancer cases in China was around 200,000 cases per year. 

NIH’s report on gastric cancer in China said that the highest mortality rates occur primarily in the North, covering Liaodong, Shandong, Yangtze River Delta, and mid-western provinces. 

According to Zhihu, stomach cancer is also common in Guizhou, Fujian, Zhejiang, and Gansu. The risk factors are allegedly related to high-salt diets and pickled foods. 

Liver cancer

The NIH has a report on liver cancer in China. As mentioned in the report, China accounts for around 19% of the global population yet accounts for more than 50% of all newly diagnosed liver cancer cases and fatalities.

In China, liver cancer was ranked fourth in terms of cancer incidence and second in terms of cancer death. It is diagnosed in areas such as Guangxi, Hainan, Heilongjiang, Sichuan, and Fujian. 

According to NIH, it is estimated that by 2025 and 2030, the number of reported cases for men and women will be around 395,000, and the number of deaths will be 296,000.

Factors that cause lung, stomach, and liver cancers

Regarding the cause of lung cancer, it might be because of non-demographic factors. According to the report, factors include smoking, environmental air pollution, and other risks. 

Two identified risk factors for lung cancer are smoking and air pollution. The researchers say that China’s Ministry of Health reports that most pollutant exposure occurs indoors. In addition, Zhihu added emissions from coal-fired heating from the northern cities’ developed industries. 

Because of China’s high smoking rate for the past 20 years, lung cancer is expected to rise in the next 10 to 20 years.

Meanwhile, the Chinese government also listed the risk factors for stomach cancer. Gastric cancer reportedly develops due to the long-term cumulative impacts of infection, environmental factors, host genetic factors, and lifestyle.

The risk factors include pollution, smoking, drinking, and diet. They also added chemical substances in the work environment as an occupational factor.

Risk factors for liver cancer include infections, tobacco smoking, or alcohol consumption.

According to the NIH report, the results highlight the need for ongoing prevention and control strategies to reduce the burden of liver cancer. The lack of effective treatment options is another factor.

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