More Women Have Cancer But More Survive

The number of women cancer patients soared rapidly compared to a decade ago, but they had a better five-year survival rate than male patients, according to National Cancer Center figures released by the Ministry of Health and Welfare on Thursday.

Colorectal, lung and stomach cancer increased sharply among men in their late 50s, while breast cancer hits many women in their late 40s and thyroid cancer in their 50s.

The data show that a total of 1.097 million people -- 491,000 men and 606,000 women -- survived as of January 2012 out of patients diagnosed with cancer from 1999, when the government started to compile statistics, through 2011.

Some 218,000 people were newly diagnosed with cancer in 2011, of whom 110,000 were men and 108,000 women. But the rate of increase was greater for women as the number of male cancer patients rose 1.8 times since 2001 while that of female patients jumped 2.2-fold.

But with improving treatment, more patients also won the battle against cancer. The five-year survival rate of those who were diagnosed with cancer from 2007 to 2011 was 66.3 percent -- 57.6 percent for men and 75.2 percent for women. That was 12.5 percent higher than for those who were diagnosed from 2001 to 2005.

Stomach cancer was most common type among men with 19.4 percent, followed by colorectal cancer (15.6 percent), lung cancer (13.8 percent), and liver cancer (11.1 percent). These types of cancers were frequent among patients in their 50s and soared dramatically afterwards. This resulted in the number of male cancer patients surpassing that of women from the age of 55. Among men over the age of 70, lung cancer was the most common type.

For women, breast cancer was especially common among those in their 40s and thyroid cancer in their 50s, but these types of cancer occur less often with age. However, colorectal cancer and stomach cancer start to affect many women patients from the age of 50 onwards. Lung cancer was the most common type for women over 80.

Overall, thyroid cancer was most the common type among women with 31.1 percent, followed by breast cancer with 14.8 percent, colorectal cancer with 10.2 percent, stomach cancer with 9.5 percent and lung cancer with 6.1 percent. / Dec. 27, 2013 12:54 KST