Population-Based Regional Cancer Incidence in Korea: Comparison between Urban and Rural Areas

Cancer Res Treat. 2016 Apr;48(2):789-97. doi: 10.4143/crt.2015.062. Epub 2015 Jul 14.


Purpose: The purpose of this study is to investigate differences in organ-specific cancer incidence according to the region and population size in Korea.

Materials and methods: We reviewed the data of the cancer registration program of Gyeongnam Regional Cancer Center between 2008 and 2011. Age-standardized rates of cancer incidence were analyzed according to population size of the region and administrative zone.

Results: Incidence of thyroid cancer has been increasing rapidly in both urban and rural areas. However, the thyroid cancer incidence was much lower in rural areas than in urban areas and megalopolis such as Seoul. Gastric cancer was relatively more common in rural areas, in megalopolis near the sea (Ulsan, Busan, and Incheon), and other southern provinces (Chungcheongnam-do, Gyeongsangbuk-do, and Gyeongsangnam-do). A detailed analysis in Gyeongsangnam-do revealed that rural areas have relatively low incidence of thyroid and colorectal cancer, and relatively high incidence of gastric and lung cancer compared to urban areas.

Conclusion: This study suggests that there are some differences in cancer incidence by population size. Thyroid and colorectal cancer incidence was increasing, and gastric and lung cancer was slightly decreasing in urban areas, whereas gastric and lung cancer incidence still remains high in rural areas.

Keywords: Epidemiology; Korea; Rural population; Urbanization.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Female
  • Humans
  • Incidence
  • Male
  • Neoplasms / epidemiology*
  • Population Density
  • Republic of Korea / epidemiology
  • Rural Health / statistics & numerical data*
  • Seoul / epidemiology
  • Stomach Neoplasms / epidemiology
  • Urban Health / statistics & numerical data*