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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 3.1% per annum in the past decade. A total of 33 075 new cancer cases were diagnosed in Hong Kong in 2017, hitting a record high with 1 607 more cases or a rise of 5.1% compared with 2016.
  2. A total of 16 876 cancers were newly diagnosed in males and 16 199 in females in 2017. The numbers have increased by 841 (or 5.2%) for males and 766 (or 5.0%) for females compared to 2016. The crude annual incidence rates of cancer per 100,000 were 497.5 for males and 405.1 for females in 2017.
  3. More men developed cancer than women. There were 104 men for every 100 women newly diagnosed of cancer in 2017. With the prevailing trends in incidence and population structure, the gender ratio will be reversed in the coming few years. This will be particularly obvious in the middle age groups, in which new cases of cancer in women substantially outnumber men.
  4. The five most frequent cancers diagnosed for both genders combined in 2017 were colorectal cancer, lung cancer, breast cancer, prostate cancer and liver cancer. These five leading cancers comprised over half (58.3%) of all new cancer cases (Figure 1).

    Figure 1. Five leading diagnoses of new cancer cases, 2017

    Five leading diagnoses of new cancer cases, 2017
  5. Cancer is primarily a disease of older people. Half of cancers occurred in people over the age of 65, 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 2017, cancer claimed 14 354 lives, accounting for about one third of the total deaths in the local population. Among all, lung cancer, colorectal cancer and liver cancer topped the list and made up of 52.8% of all cancer deaths (Figure 2).

    Figure 2. Five leading causes of registered cancer deaths, 2017

    Five leading causes of registered cancer deaths, 2017
  7. The majority of cancer patients are elderly. Almost two-thirds of newly diagnosed cancers in 2017 and 80% of cancer deaths in 2017 related to those aged 60 and above. The median age at diagnosis of cancer in 2017 was 68 years for male and 62 years for female. The median age at death due to cancer was 72 years for male and 73 years for female in 2017.
  8. A person's risk of developing or dying from cancer is age-dependent. Based on the cancer statistics in 2017, about 1 in 4 men and 1 in 5 women will develop cancer by 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, a steady decline in the age-standardised cancer incidence rate has been observed for men over the past quarter century, with a reversal of decreasing 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 but the rate in women appears to be levelling off in the past ten years (Figure 3).

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

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