Trends in Nasopharyngeal Carcinoma Mortality in China, 1973-2005


Nasopharyngeal carcinoma (NPC) is a disease with distinct ethnic and geographic distribution. The incidenceof NPC in Chinese residing in Asia has declined over the last few decades, but NPC mortality trends in the entireChinese population over time have not been systematically evaluated. In this study, we examined NPC mortalityat the national level in China between 1973-2005. Mortality rates were derived from the databases of nationalretrospective surveys on cancer mortality conducted in the periods of 1973-1975, 1990-1992, and 2004-2005,respectively. NPC was classified according to the International classification of diseases. Age-adjusted mortalityrates were calculated by direct standardization according to the world standard population. Trends in rates wereevaluated by age, gender, geographic areas, and socioeconomic status. From 1973 to 2005, there was a generaltrend of decrease in NPC mortality in China, with higher rates in the south on a downward trend in the north.The age-standardized NPC mortality rates were 2.60 per 100,000 in 1973-1975, 1.94 per 100,000 in 1990-1992,and 1.30 per 100,000 in 2004-2005, respectively. The trend was similar in both men and women, in both urbanand rural areas, but the declining rates in females were more remarkable than in males. The mortality rateswere higher for the age groups above 50 years than those less than 50 years of age, both showing downwardtrend over 30-year period. In summary, the overall NPC mortality has consistently decreased in China over thepast three decades, particularly in women and in old adults.