History of Cancer Registration in China


Surveillance of Cancer Mortality in 1973-75At the end of 1970’s, the most unforgettable and important event in cancer control of China was the national survey ofcancer mortality for the period of 1973 – 1975, which was organized by the Chinese Ministry of Public Health. For the firsttime, this gave a clear picture of the geographic distribution of different cancers in Mainland China. The survey coveredalmost every corner of China, and provided very reliable information on cancer mortality. The best known publicationwas the Atlas of Cancer Mortality in the People’s Republic of China, edited by Li Junyao and 30 others, and published bythe China Map Press in 1979. After publication of the survey results, a number of international collaborative studies wereconducted in those areas with a high mortality from specific cancers, such as esophageal cancer in Linzhou city (Lin Xiancounty) and liver cancer in Qidong city (Qidong county). There has been no other comparable achievement in the descriptiveepidemiology of cancer in China.Survey of Cancer PrevalenceAfter 1977, many new cancer hospitals and cancer institutes were established nationwide. For many of these new institutions,cancer epidemiology was a key task, due to the healthcare policy at that time, emphasising “prevention is moreimportant than treatment”. Cancer registration was conducted in some areas. For those without constant cancer registration,a survey of cancer prevalence was thought to be an easy way to have information about cancer incidence and mortality rates.Due to shortage of funds, lack of experienced staff, and other reasons, only a few cancer registries were able to develop tointernational standards in a short time, and these have become the main resource for data on cancer incidence data in China.