Close

Donate today to keep Global Voices strong!

Watch the video: We Are Global Voices!

We report on 167 countries. We translate in 35 languages. We are Global Voices. Watch the video »

Over 800 of us from all over the world work together to bring you stories that are hard to find by yourself. But we can’t do it alone. Even though most of us are volunteers, we still need your help to support our editors, our technology, outreach and advocacy projects, and our community events.

Donate now »
GlobalVoices in Learn more »

Every Minute Six Patients are Diagnosed with Cancer in China

It's official. The 'plague’ of cancer is at the center of a major public health crisis in China. 

Six patients are diagnosed with cancer every minute, that's 8,550 new cancer patients every day, according to the 2012 China Cancer Census (2012中国肿瘤登记年报) [zh]. The report states that 13 percent of these cancer patients will die.

Many believe the rapid increase in cancer rates is a result of environmental pollution from the last few decades of intense growth in China.

The Cancer Census report was published in January 2013, but didn't receive much coverage. Chinese media were busy focusing on the National People's Congress (NPC) and Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference (CPPCC).

On April 7 and 8, however, the report was repackaged as a public health crisis [zh] by various news outlets, eliciting strong and often emotional debates on China's major social media platforms.

A commentator called Tulao 8 (@土魯8) [zh], from Guangzhou, said on Sina Weibo:

中国是个癌变化的国家,每分钟确诊6人得癌症,这是个可怕的数字,也许这就是中国老百姓唯一能享受到30年改革开放的成果。有些人沾沾自喜,眼前的一切都是他们成就出来的;有些人挣扎在死亡边沿,他们并不知道谁是真正的凶手,也许有部分人知道,也只能无可奈何地让秽浊慢慢地侵蚀掉他们的躯体。

China is a cancer country. Every minute six people are diagnosed with cancer. This is a terrible figure. This is the fruit that ordinary people can enjoy after 30 years of open door policy and reform. Some people are happy about the situation and they see everything as their achievement. Some people are struggling with death and they don't know who is the murderer. Some know who do this to them but can't do anything to stop their bodies from being slowly eaten by the filth.

On Sina Weibo, Global Times shared news about the map of China’s “cancer villages”.

A map of China's ‘cancer vllages'.

Environmental authorities in China had already confirmed the existence of so-called ‘cancer villages‘ [zh], with 3000 toxic chemicals identified and found across China (excluding data from autonomous regions such as Tibet, Xinjiang and Qinghai.)

Chinese media has reported as many as 459 cancer villages. It is not unusual to find a 10 percent incidence of cancer in these villages [zh]. The worst case is in Zhai Wan Cun in Hubei province; there the cancer rate is 80 times higher than the national level [zh]. The village only has a population of 3000, but more than 100 people with cancer died there between 2003-2006. The average cancer rate in developed countries is around 3 percent.

Beyond these staggering figures, many micro-bloggers painted the real situation in their cancer-ridden communities.

A blogger calling himself ‘Better to be poor at home’ (@在家貧亦好) on Sina Weibo described [zh] :

清明回乡祭祖,了解一些情况,两个村都有很多癌症患者,因癌症去世的,一个村是五个一个村六个,且多为30至50岁的青壮年,这确实是个怪现象,村民们说是年岁不好,但在农村出现大量癌症患者绝对有问题,有关部门应该就这个问题展开详细的调查才是!

I visit my home village during Qingming festival, the two villages nearby have many cancer patients and many have died because of cancer. The first village has 5 and the other one has 6. Most of them are between 30-50, so this is quite odd. The villagers blame ill fortune, but something must have gone wrong for so many cases to appear in the rural villages. The authorities should investigate the cause.

Another calling himself ‘Red leaves on the mountain’ (@山山紅葉), from Tai An City in Shandong province, said [zh]:

我们泰安早就被各种工厂包围了。我们村都被某电铝厂逼的集体搬迁了,上访都被拦下来了,好多电视台的记者都被政府领导摆平了,我们村的地再也不能种出粮食了,只能包租给工厂。哎~癌症人数爆发式增长。

Our Tai'an city has been surrounded by factories. Our villages have been forced to move because of the construction of a aluminum factory. They tried to petition but were stopped. The television reporters have been pressed by government officials. Our land is no longer suitable for growing crops and can only be rented to factories. The number of cancer patients has increase in an explosive manner.

Deng Fei (@鄧飛), an activist who campaigns against water pollution in China by asking people to document polluted rivers, re-posted [zh] a private message sent to him by an online friend:

#一名网友来信#邓老师,今天看见您发起的关注地下水污染,眼泪掉下来。我少小离开家乡,在上海打拼,我的亲人依然生活在潍坊与平度交界处,如今几乎每家都能讲述一个关于癌症的凄凉故事,我妹妹的公婆在去年同时被查出癌症,公公已去世,婆婆尚在治疗中。我代表世代生活在那片土地上的乡亲叩谢您。

#Letter from an online friend# Teacher Deng, tears come out when I see that you have raised concern about the pollution of underground water. I left my home village to Shanghai when I was very young but my relatives are still living near Weifang and PIngdu in Shandong province. Now every family can tell a story about cancer. My sister's parents in law were both diagnosed with cancer last year. Now her father-in-law has passed away but mother-in-law is still receiving treatment. I would like to thank you for what you have done to the people in that piece of land.

Cang County in Hebei is an example of a region with high cancer rates, and has suffered in the past from high levels of underground water pollution. Charles Xue (@薛蛮子), an investor highlighted [zh] the news:

#河北沧县红豆水污染案有感#沧县环保局长在网民一片骂声中下台了。化验结果是污染超标70倍!化工厂污染长达23年。村里有确诊的癌症30例其中26例死亡!村民反复申诉,从环保部到省环保厅层层文案下转,验水结果居然是水质合格?!而且是年年合格?中国655城市400个靠地下水供水。我们怎么办?我们的孩子呢

#Comment on the “red bean” pollution incident in Cang County in Hebei# [note: the underground water in the region has turned red and the head of environmental department claimed that the water was not polluted, he said that when red beans are boiled with rice, the rice turn red.] The head of Environmental Department in Cang County has finally been sacked because of netizens’ criticism. The report came out and the residue of chemicals has exceeded 70 times the safety standard. In the village, there are 30 diagnosed cancer patients and 26 of them have died. The villagers have been protesting but all these years, all the reports from the county to the province's environmental departments said that the water quality is safe?! How can they pass the water quality test every year? Among 655 cities in China, 400 depend on underground water supplies, so what can we do? What can our kids do?

Another commentator called ‘Little Dadada’ (@小达达哒) blogged about [zh] the cancer death toll in Fuzhou city from Fujian province.

【癌症杀手,榕城不可承受之重!】而作为占全省人口19.31%的首府福州市,每年因癌死亡人数超过1.1万,死亡率位居全国中小城市中首位。

[Cancer the killer and the unbearable heaviness of Fuzhou city] Fuzhou City constitutes 19.3% of the population of Fujian province, and the annual death toll from cancer patients is more than 11,000. The cancer death rate has topped all the middle to small size cities in the country.

A user called ‘Huihui Da'(@回回達)concluded [zh] by noting sarcastically that:

那是,天天和猪肉汤,鸡汤鱼汤,吃毒馒头,工业菜是毒豆芽,天天雾霾怎么不得癌

Well, We drink pork soup [refers to dead pigs in Shanghai river], eat poisonous bread, toxic sprouts produced by industrial farming, breathe in toxic smog. Of course we have cancer.

World regions

Countries

Languages