Trends in Nasopharyngeal Carcinoma Mortality in China, 1973-2005

  • Huang, Tian-Ren (Department of Epidemiology, Guangxi Cancer Institute) ;
  • Zhang, Si-Wei (National Office for Cancer Prevention and Control, Ministry of Health) ;
  • Chen, Wan-Qing (National Office for Cancer Prevention and Control, Ministry of Health) ;
  • Deng, Wei (Department of Epidemiology, Guangxi Cancer Institute) ;
  • Zhang, Chun-Yan (Department of Epidemiology, Guangxi Cancer Institute) ;
  • Zhou, Xin-Juan (Department of Epidemiology, Guangxi Cancer Institute) ;
  • Zhai, Ri-Hong (Department of Environmental Health, Harvard School of Public Health)
  • Published : 2012.06.30


Nasopharyngeal carcinoma (NPC) is a disease with distinct ethnic and geographic distribution. The incidence of NPC in Chinese residing in Asia has declined over the last few decades, but NPC mortality trends in the entire Chinese population over time have not been systematically evaluated. In this study, we examined NPC mortality at the national level in China between 1973-2005. Mortality rates were derived from the databases of national retrospective 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 mortality rates were calculated by direct standardization according to the world standard population. Trends in rates were evaluated by age, gender, geographic areas, and socioeconomic status. From 1973 to 2005, there was a general trend 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 urban and rural areas, but the declining rates in females were more remarkable than in males. The mortality rates were higher for the age groups above 50 years than those less than 50 years of age, both showing downward trend over 30-year period. In summary, the overall NPC mortality has consistently decreased in China over the past three decades, particularly in women and in old adults.


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