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Cancer Burden & Prevention Information for SE Asia

Globally, 1 in 6 deaths are cancer related [1].

8.2 million new cancer cases and 5.2 million cancer deaths were estimated in Southern, Eastern, and South-Eastern Asia in 2018, the majority of which were in China. Although cancer rates vary from country to country, this region alone corresponds to approximately half of the cancer burden worldwide [2].

All cancer sites combined incidence rates in Southern, Eastern, and South-Eastern Asia, age-standardized rate (world) per 100,000, both sexes combined, 2018


Copyright © 2019 TheAmerican Cancer Society, Inc.
All rights reserved

Lung, colorectal, and breast cancer are the most common in the region, while lung, stomach, and liver cancer are the leading cause of death [2].

Estimated number of new cancer cases vs. deaths and distribution (%) by type (excludes non-melanoma skin cancer) in Southern, Easter, and South-Eastern Asia, both sexes, 2018


Copyright © 2019 The American Cancer Society, Inc.
All rights reserved

Although not all cancer is preventable, between 30-50% of cancer cases are [3]. The WHO recommends the following cancer prevention strategies:

1. Limit tobacco use & exposure to secondhand smoke

Smoking can lead to lung, oesophagus, larynx, mouth, throat, kidney, bladder, pancreas, stomach, & cervical cancer [3]. In general, tobacco is responsible for ~22% of cancer death [1].

2. Improve your diet & exercise regularly

Diets high in fruits & vegetables can protect the body from many cancers. Eating nutritious food along with regular physical activity can limit obesity, which is linked to many types of cancer, including oesophagus, colorectal, breast, endometrium, & kidney [3].

3. Control alcohol intake

Cancer risk increases with the amount of alcohol consumed. Excess alcohol can contribute to liver, colorectal, oesophagus, larynx, pharynx, & oral cavity cancer. Smoking combined with excessive drinking can significantly increase cancer risk [3].

4. Keep up with vaccinations

Approximately 15% of all cancers are associated with infections [3]. It is estimated that vaccinating against human papillomavirus (HPV) & Hepatitis B alone could prevent 1 million cancer cases each year [1].

5. Limit environmental pollution & carcinogen exposure

Outdoor air pollution is responsible for more than 200,000 lung cancer deaths worldwide. Additionally, indoor air pollution, such as cooking with coal fires, doubles the risk of lung cancer [3].

Individuals in certain work fields man also be exposed more heavily to certain carcinogens, like asbestos, which is directly related to mesothelioma (a type of lung cancer) [3].

6. Reduce exposure to radiation

UV & solar radiation cause all major types of skin cancer; sunscreen & protective clothing should be worn to limit exposure [3].

Radiation can also be used for medical reasons, but should be properly performed & deemed medically necessary to reduce any needless harm [3].

Most importantly, remember that no one knows your body better than you do. Always be alert for symptoms of disease and speak to your doctor regularly about any recommended cancer screenings.

The American Cancer Society created this helpful reminder of things to be aware of about your body [4]:


[1] Fact Sheet – Cancer [Internet]. World Health Organization (WHO). 2020 [cited 22 May 2020].
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[2] Southern, Eastern,& South-Eastern Asia [Internet]. The Cancer Atlas. 2019 [cited 22 May2020].
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[3] Cancer prevention [Internet]. World Health Organization (WHO). 2020 [cited 22 May 2020].
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[4] Harvard Health Publishing – Harvard Medical School. The 10 commandments of cancer prevention. [Internet]. 2019 [cited 22 May 2020].
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