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《TAIPEI TIMES》Cancer remains leading cause of death: ministry

Statistics Department Director Lee Chiu-yen, center, speaks at a news conference in Taipei yesterday.
Photo: Lin Hui-chin, Taipei Times

Statistics Department Director Lee Chiu-yen, center, speaks at a news conference in Taipei yesterday. Photo: Lin Hui-chin, Taipei Times

2024/06/18 03:00

By Lee I-chia / Staff reporter

Cancer remained the leading cause of death in Taiwan for the 42nd year last year, and the “cancer death clock” moved faster by 14 seconds, the Ministry of Health and Welfare said yesterday.

Among the top 10 leading causes of deaths last year, COVID-19 fell to sixth place from third the previous year, ministry data showed.

Rounding up the top 10 were heart disease (excluding hypertensive disease), pneumonia, cerebrovascular disease, diabetes, hypertensive disease, accidental injuries, chronic lower respiratory disease and kidney disease, the data showed.

The total number of deaths last year was 205,575, down 2,863 from the previous year mainly due to the decline in the COVID-19 mortality rate, Department of Statistics section head Lu Shu-chun (呂淑君) said.

The mortality rate was 880.7 deaths per 100,000 population, 1.5 percent lower than the previous year, and the age-standardized mortality rate, based on the WHO formula, was 429.6 deaths per 100,000 people, she said.

The top 10 causes accounted for about 75 percent of all deaths, with COVID-19 seeing the largest drop, by 5,705 people, or 38.9 percent, compared with the year before, while deaths from pneumonia climbed 16.6 percent to almost the same standardized mortality rate as before the COVID-19 pandemic.

Cancer accounted for 25.8 percent (53,126 people) of all deaths, Lu said.

The cancer mortality rate was 227.6 deaths per 100,000 population, 2.2 percent higher than the previous year.

The age-standardized mortality rate was 115.4 deaths per 100,000 population, 0.5 percent lower, with Lu attributing the divergence to an aging population leading to increased cancer deaths.

Tracheal, bronchial and lung cancers were the top three causes of cancer deaths, followed by liver and bile duct cancers, colorectal and anal cancers, breast cancer in women, prostate cancer, oral cancer, pancreatic cancer, stomach cancer, esophageal cancer and ovarian cancer, data showed.

The rankings of the 10 leading causes of cancer deaths were the same as the year before, with lung cancer and liver cancer remaining the top two for 44 consecutive years.

About 87 percent of those who died from cancer last year were aged 55 or older, while the 65-to-74 age group registered the largest increase, she said.

The cancer death clock moved faster by 14 seconds to an average of one person dying of cancer every 9 minutes, 53 seconds, Department of Statistics Director Lee Chiu-yen (李秋嬿) said.

However, the clock for liver and bile duct cancers slowed for a second consecutive year, affecting the ranking of chronic liver disease and cirrhosis in the nation’s leading causes of death, dropping from 10th in 2018 to 12th last year, she said.

Health Promotion Administration Deputy Director-General Chia Shu-li (賈淑麗) said that the age-standardized mortality rate of cancer has declined from 16.4 deaths per 100,000 population from a decade ago, and the agency would continue to promote government-funded cancer screenings.

More than 4.87 million screening tests for cancer were conducted through the program last year, and 88.9 percent of those who tested positive for precancerous lesions or cancer have received follow-up examinations, she said.

Getting tested for early detection is very important in fighting cancer, she said.

“The exact causes of cancers are unknown, but clinical studies have shown that about 60 to 70 percent of liver cancers are caused by viral hepatitis, which are mainly hepatitis B and C, and other causes include non-alcoholic fatty liver disease,” Chia said.

As the eligibility for the government-funded one-time hepatitis B and hepatitis C screening for adults aged 45 to 79 was expanded, the screening rate increased from 8.5 percent in 2020 to 58.8 percent last year, with more than 5.91 million people getting the test, she said.

Centers for Disease Control Deputy Director-General Tseng Shu-hui (曾淑慧) said that COVID-19 deaths declined not only due to reduced infections, but also vaccination and access to oral antiviral drugs.

To date, COVID-19 deaths this year total about 1,000, so the mortality rate should be lower than last year, she said, adding that it might even fall to 15th place.

Among deaths from accidental injuries, traffic accidents were the leading cause across all age groups, Lu said.

However, accidental drowning ranked second in the younger-than-14 age group, while falls were second among the 45-to-64 and 65-and-older age groups, she said.

新聞來源:TAIPEI TIMES

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