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Korea’s cancer occurrence rate falls for three consecutive years

The cancer occurrence rate among South Koreans has fallen for three consecutive years, government data showed Tuesday.

According to data tallied by the Korea Central Cancer Registry, 217,057 patients were diagnosed with cancer in 2014 -- 289.1 cases per 100,000 people -- down 4.5 percent from the 227,188 patients in 2013.

The KCCR began collecting data on the occurrence rate of cancer in 1999. It peaked in 2012 with 323.3 cases per 100,000 people, but has since been on a gradual decline.

By type of cancer, thyroid cancer topped the list with 30,806 people diagnosed in 2014 -- about 28.1 percent lower than in the previous year -- followed by colorectal cancer, lung cancer, breast cancer, liver cancer and prostate cancer.
Researchers said the fall in the occurrence rate of thyroid cancer compared to previous years could be due to the heightened public awareness regarding overdiagnosis and the resulting unncessary surgery.

Among the five kinds of cancer monitored by the National Cancer Information Center, breast cancer was the only type that showed an increasing trend, with the number of cases rising by 5.7 percent from 17,398 in 2013 to 18,381 in 2014.

The data also showed that 1 in 35 South Koreans have suffered or have been suffering cancer since 1999, amounting to a total of approximately 1.46 million as of January 2015.

Based on the life expectancy of South Koreans, at 82 years old, 2 in 5 men and 1 in 3 women are likely to develop cancer in their lifetime, researchers found.

South Korea’s occurrence rate of cancer was 265.7 cases per 100,000 people, similar to the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development average of 270.3 cases per 100,000 people.

By Kim Da-sol (