China will have the largest number of lung cancer patients in the world by 2025, according to experts at a forum in Beijing at the weekend.
There will be around a million sufferers across the nation by then and lung cancer will have become the top killer of all Chinese cancer patients, the Beijing News reported.
Experts said smoking is to blame for about 80 percent of cases in China but air pollution is also playing its part, according to the World Health Organization.
China has around 350 million smokers compared to the world’s total of 1.1 billion and lung cancer accounts for about 22 percent of malignant tumor deaths, with lung cancer incidence rising by 26.9 percent year on year, the forum heard.
The incidence of lung cancer is 53.57 per 100,000 people in China, and the death rate 45.57 per 100,000.
Smoking, air pollution, work-related reasons, chronic lung disease and genetic susceptibility could all lead to lung cancer, but smoking is the top reason, said Wang Changli, a member of the Chinese Society of Lung Cancer and a doctor with the Tianjin Medical University Cancer Institute and Hospital.
People who have smoked for more than 20 years, start smoking before the age of 20 and smoke more than 20 cigarettes a day are the group most at risk, experts said.
The WHO’s International Agency for Research on Cancer said last month that air pollution is a carcinogen, alongside known dangers such as asbestos, tobacco and ultraviolet radiation.
Air pollution is a complex mixture that includes gases and particulate matter, the agency said, and fine particles can be deposited deep in people’s lungs.
Chinese cities have been hit by intense air pollution in recent years.
Doctors at the forum said people should quit smoking, keep their homes well ventilated, wear masks in days when pollution is heavy and have regular health checks to avoid lung cancer or ensure it is detected at an early stage.
Cheng Shujun, an academician with the Cancer Institute and Hospital of Peking Union Medical College, called on the establishment of a national level lung cancer prevention and treatment center and for young children to be educated on the dangers of smoking.