Why is cancer increasing in Vietnam?

The number of people with cancer in Vietnam has increased 2.6 times over more than two decades, now exceeding 180,000 new cases each year and changing the disease model due to lifestyle, screening and early detection.Cancer data in Vietnam as well as the world is surveyed and recorded annually by the International Agency for Research on Cancer (Globocan) and published annually. The latest data is Globocan 2022 published in 2023. In 2024 there is no 2023 cancer data yet.

According to this data, in 2000 Vietnam recorded more than 68,000 new cases of cancer. The number of cases increases gradually each year, by 2022 it will exceed 182,000 cases, an increase of 2.6 times in 22 years.

Globocan 2022 also recorded that this year more than 122,000 people in Vietnam died from cancer, belonging to the group of countries with the highest cancer deaths in the world while the new incidence rate is at an average level. The incidence rate in Vietnam ranks 91st out of 185 countries, but the mortality rate ranks 50th and is increasing on the global rankings. The reason is believed to be that many people discover the disease at a late stage and die.

The top 5 types of cancer are breast, liver, lung, stomach and rectum. Except for breast cancer, which can be detected early with a cure rate of more than 90%, the remaining 4 cancers are all very dangerous, with high mortality rates, especially liver and lung cancer. This is the difference in the type of cancer in Vietnam compared to Europe (where skin cancer is the majority and less dangerous).

Previously, in Vietnam, most uterine cancers occurred in the liver, lungs, breasts, and stomach. By gender, in men, liver cancer leads in the number of new cases, followed by lung, stomach, colorectal, and prostate cancers. In women, the 5 types with the highest incidence are breast, lung, colorectal, stomach, and liver cancers.

“The above data shows Cancer patterns in Vietnam are changing compared to 20 years ago,” said Prof. Dr. Nguyen Chan Hung, former president of the Vietnam Cancer Association.

To make this comment, Mr. Hung assessed that the increase in cancer cases is due to many factors such as population aging, increased life expectancy, changing living environment, air and water pollution. The older you are, the more time you have accumulated and been exposed to risk factors, the higher the incidence of the disease.

Habits such as alcohol, tobacco, and irregular eating and living are factors that cause cancer. For example, a diet low in vegetables and fruits and too much protein and fat increases the risk of colorectal cancer and many other cancers. Consuming a lot of pickles containing nitrates and nitrites can easily cause esophageal and stomach cancer. Eating moldy foods containing aflatoxin causes liver cancer.

Sharing this opinion, Dr. Lam Trung Hieu, Head of the Department of Palliative Care, Institute of Oncology and Nuclear Medicine, Military Hospital 175, added another reason is that medicine is increasingly developing, with many diagnostic tools. diagnose and detect cancer early. People have access to cancer screening, so many people are diagnosed with the disease. Not to mention, thanks to increasingly advanced treatment methods, patients’ survival time is increasing and cancer re-examination visits are increasing.

“The increase in visits does not mean the number of new patients has increased, but also includes the number of old patients who have lived for many years after treatment and maintain regular check-ups,” Dr. Hieu clarified.

The above causes have affected the changes in many cancers that have been common in Vietnam for many years. For example, previously leading cervical cancer, it is now ranked 11th in terms of new cases. This is thanks to more and more women proactively examining, screening, detecting and treating pre-cancerous lesions, preventing them from progressing to cancer. In addition, many people have been vaccinated against cervical cancer in recent years, contributing to reducing the disease rate.

From 2018 until now, the number of people with liver cancer has surpassed lung cancer, ranking first in both new cases and death rate in Vietnam. These are two types with poor prognosis and low survival time, which is also the reason why the death rate from cancer in our country is among the highest globally.

Vietnam is also in the group of countries with the highest rate of liver cancer. Professor Hung explains that the number of liver cancer cases in men is higher than in women because men consume a lot of alcohol and cigarettes. In both sexes, there are many people infected with hepatitis virus, but men “have many bad habits” so they are more likely to develop liver cancer than women.

In women, the rate of breast cancer is still high, even slightly increasing because more and more women are not married, do not give birth, have few children, and do not breastfeed – risk factors for breast cancer. Besides, an abundant lifestyle leading to being overweight, obese, and sedentary also increases the risk. The good news is that methods for diagnosing and treating breast cancer are increasingly improving, helping to detect early and cure the disease.

In early stage cancer, patients can have breast conservation surgery, or mastectomy will easily create a new breast shape. There are more and more effective drugs to treat diseases, such as chemotherapy drugs, endocrine drugs, targeted therapies… These conditions help breast cancer today have the highest cure rate in the world. type of cancer.

Patients wait for medical examination at Ho Chi Minh City Oncology Hospital, facility 2, Thu Duc City, June 10. Image: Quynh Tran

In the context of the increasing number of cases, many Vietnamese hospitals have organized oncology departments to treat patients. The hospital organizes training, technology transfer, and builds a cancer prevention network with other hospitals and localities to narrow the gap in access to diagnostic services and quality of treatment. Thanks to this, frontline hospitals are relieved of their load, and people can enjoy highly specialized medical services right in the locality.

Recent research has documented a number of cancers that have been detected early and have good treatment results thanks to medical advances. On the other hand, health insurance also makes an important contribution to the development of diagnostic and treatment techniques and care for cancer patients.

Doctors recommend that people raise awareness of prevention by living a healthy lifestyle, eating properly, limiting processed foods, quitting smoking, reducing alcohol, exercising regularly… Get vaccinated disease prevention vaccine. Get a regular health check every year and see a doctor immediately if there are any unusual signs. Proactively screen for early cancer according to recommendations for age and risk groups.

“Join health insurance because this is a lifesaver if you unfortunately get sick, especially cancer,” Professor Hung advised, adding that cancer treatment is a long-term, individualized process, so the cost is high. usually very large.

By Editor

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