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Overview of Cancer Statistics in Hong Kong

  1. Cancer is one of the major non-communicable diseases ("NCD") in Hong Kong. The cancer incidence has been on a rising trend, increasing at an average rate of about 2.6% per annum in the past decade. A total of 34 179 new cancer cases were diagnosed in Hong Kong in 2020, falling by 903 cases or a drop of 2.6% compared with 2019. On average, 94 people were diagnosed with cancer each day.
  2. A total of 16 703 cancers were newly diagnosed in males and 17 476 in females in 2020. The numbers have decreased by 982 (or 5.6%) for males and increased by 79 (or 0.5%) for females compared to 2019. The crude annual incidence rates of cancer per 100 000 men and women were 489 and 430 respectively in 2020.
  3. For the first time, women surpassed men by 773 in the number of new cancer cases in 2020, with a ratio of 105 women per 100 men.
  4. The five most frequent cancers diagnosed for both genders combined in 2020 were lung cancer (5 422 cases, 15.9%), colorectal cancer (5 087 cases, 14.9%), breast cancer (4 988 cases, 14.6%), prostate cancer (2 315 cases, 6.8%) and liver cancer (1 735 cases, 5.1%). These five leading cancers comprised over half (57.2%) of all new cancer cases (Figure 1).

    Figure 1. Five leading diagnoses of new cancer cases, 2020

    Five leading diagnoses of new cancer cases, 2020
  5. Cancer is primarily a disease of older people. More than a half of cancers occurred in people with the age of 65 or above, whereas only a mere 0.5% of cancers being diagnosed in children and adolescents (i.e. aged 0-19 years).
  6. Cancer is the top killer in Hong Kong. In 2020, cancer claimed 14 805 lives, accounting for about one third of the total deaths in the local population. Among all, lung cancer (3 910 cases, 26.4%), colorectal cancer (2 287 cases, 15.4%) and liver cancer (1 530 cases, 10.3%) topped the list and made up of 52.2% of all cancer deaths (Figure 2). Pancreatic cancer (813 cases, 5.5%) and breast cancer (756 cases, 5.1%) are the fourth and fifth common causes of cancer deaths respectively.

    Figure 2. Five leading causes of registered cancer deaths, 2020

    Five leading causes of registered cancer deaths, 2020
  7. The majority of cancer patients are elderly. More than two-thirds of newly diagnosed cancers in 2020 and 82% of cancer deaths in 2020 related to those aged 60 or above. The median age at diagnosis of cancer in 2020 was 68 years for male and 63 years for female. The median age at death due to cancer was 72 years for male and 73 years for female in 2020.
  8. A person's risk of developing or dying from cancer is age-dependent. Based on the cancer statistics in 2020, about 1 in 4 men and 1 in 5 women will develop cancer before the age of 75.
  9. While the number of new cancer cases has continued to increase largely as a result of a growing and ageing population, the age-standardised cancer incidence rate for men has levelled off, with an increasing trend for women observed in the past ten years or so (Figure 3).
  10. Both the age-standardised mortality rates for men and that for women had a downward trend during the above period (Figure 3).

Figure 3. Age-standardised incidence and mortality rates of all cancers by gender

Age-standardised incidence and mortality rates of all cancers by gender