Cancer has been the most common cause of death in Korea since 1983 and is a major public health concern. This paper overviews the nationwide cancer statistics, including incidence, mortality, and survival rates, and their trends in Korea. In 2005, 142,610 new cancer cases and 65,117 cancer deaths occurred in Korea. The incidence rate for all cancer combined increased by 2.6% annually from 1999 to 2005. Significant increases have occurred in the incidence of colorectal, thyroid, female breast, and prostate cancers. The number of cancer deaths has increased over the past two decades, due mostly to population aging, while the age-standardized mortality rates have decreased in both men and women since 2002. Notable improvement has been observed in the 5-yr relative survival rates for most major cancers and for all cancer combined, with the exception of pancreatic cancer. The nationwide cancer statistics in this paper will provide essential data for evidence-based decisions in the national cancer control program in Korea.
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