One person dies of cancer every 13 minutes in Taiwan, making it the leading cause of death in the country, the Department of Health said yesterday.
Of the 144,709 people who died last year, about 28 percent (41,046) died of malignant tumors, down 0.7 percentage points compared with the previous year, Bureau of Health Promotion Deputy Director-General Kung Hsien-lan (孔憲蘭) said.
To be more precise, every 12 minutes and 48 seconds, one person dies of cancer, which topped the list of major causes of death again this year, followed by heart disease (10.8 percent), cerebrovascular disease (7 percent), pneumonia (6.2 percent), diabetes (5.7 percent), accidents (4.6 percent), chronic respiratory disease (3.6 percent), chronic liver disease and cirrhosis (3.4 percent), hypertensive disease (2.9 percent) and nephritis, nephritic syndrome and nephrosis (2.8 percent).
Suicide, which accounted for 2.9 percent of deaths in 2009, was edged out of the Top 10 list last year, moving down one ranking to 11th — the first time since 1997 that suicide was not on the Top 10 list, the department said.
Last year was the 29th straight year that cancer was the leading cause of death nationwide.
With 20 percent of deaths caused by cancer, lung cancer was the most prevalent type, followed by liver cancer (19 percent), colorectal cancer (11 percent), breast cancer in women (4 percent), oral cancer (6 percent), stomach cancer (5.5 percent), prostate cancer (2.5 percent), esophageal cancer (3.8 percent), pancreatic cancer (3.6 percent) and cervical cancer (1.7 percent).
It was worth noting that fewer people died from stomach cancer than oral cancer, Kung said. For about a quarter of a century there has been a downward trend in stomach cancer mortality rates, probably because people are eating more fresh food, she said.
However, the rise in oral cancers could be the result of an increase in the consumption of alcohol, tobacco and betel nuts, Kung said.
The survey also showed that on average, life expectancy for men was 76.2 years while that for women was 82.7 years.
Life expectancy for men and women the previous year had been 76.1 and 82.4 years respectively.