Increased lung cancer mortality rates in the Chinese population from 1973-1975 to 2004-2005: An adverse health effect from exposure to smoking

Cancer. 2015 Sep 1;121 Suppl 17:3107-12. doi: 10.1002/cncr.29603.


Background: Lung cancer incidence and mortality rates have increased substantially in China despite improvements in clinical diagnosis and treatment approaches as well as significant advances in the implementation of tobacco-control policies in recent decades.

Methods: Age-standardized mortality rates and age-specific rates of lung cancer in China were estimated for the periods 1973 to 1975, 1990 to 1992, and 2004 to 2005 using data from 3 National Death Surveys. Among patients with lung cancer who were identified from a hospital-based information system, the percentages of ever-smokers were analyzed according to histologic and demographic variables.

Results: Age-standardized mortality from lung cancer in China dramatically increased from 7.30 per 100,000 during 1973 through 1975 to 27.62 per 100,000 during 2004 through 2005. Increases in lung cancer age-standardized mortality were consistent among men and women in urban and rural populations. Among men ages 75 to 79 years, lung cancer mortality increased remarkably to 453.67 per 100,000 in 2004 and 2005 (from 246.78 per 100,000 during 1990-1992 and from 53.65 per 100,000 during 1973-1975). Among 6674 patients with lung cancer who were identified from 2003 to 2007 from a hospital-based database, 82.97% of men were ever-smokers (73.35% of men with adenocarcinoma and 91.8% of men with squamous cell carcinoma), and 11.18% of women were ever-smokers (6% of women with adenosquamous carcinoma and 39.02% of women with squamous cell carcinoma). Differences in the numbers of ever-smokers were observed between age groups but not according to the year of diagnosis.

Conclusions: The consistent and rapid increases in lung cancer mortality rates observed in the Chinese population and the high prevalence of exposure to smoking in China prompt a strong call for the implementation of a comprehensive tobacco-control policy and specific public health educational strategies.

Keywords: China; lung cancer; mortality; smoking; tobacco control.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Age Factors
  • Aged
  • China / epidemiology
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Lung Neoplasms / epidemiology*
  • Lung Neoplasms / etiology
  • Lung Neoplasms / pathology
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Risk Factors
  • Sex Characteristics
  • Smoking / adverse effects*