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Chinese Cancer Research in 2009–18 and the Disease Burden

Authors Li A, Lewison G

Received 11 March 2020

Accepted for publication 1 June 2020

Published 25 June 2020 Volume 2020:12 Pages 5031—5040


Checked for plagiarism Yes

Review by Single-blind

Peer reviewer comments 2

Editor who approved publication: Dr Eileen O'Reilly

Aihua Li,1 Grant Lewison2

1Institute of Medical Information, Chinese Academy of Medical Sciences, Beijing, People’s Republic of China; 2King’s College London, Institute of Cancer Policy, Guy’s Hospital, London SE1 9RT, UK

Correspondence: Aihua Li
Institute of Medical Information, Chinese Academy of Medical Sciences, Beijing, People’s Republic of China

Objective: We investigated the correlation of cancer research in China with its disease burden and national or provincial wealth. We also compared China’s research output with that of other Asian countries.
Methods: Chinese publications on cancer research for 2009– 18 were retrieved from the Web of Science with a special filter giving high precision and recall. Their volume relative to gross domestic product (GDP) was compared with those of 14 Asian countries, and provincial outputs with provincial GDPs. Their distribution by anatomical site was compared with China’s disease burden, and by research type with that of Europe.
Results: Chinese cancer research publications (including those from Taiwan) have grown rapidly in the last 10 years, and overtook those of the USA in 2018. Relative to other Asian countries, Chinese output was approximately proportionate to its wealth. Relative to its cancer burden (as a percentage of the total disease burden), China published an appropriate amount of cancer research in 2009– 13, but almost one-third more in 2014– 18. Its distribution between the provinces reflected their wealth, but with comparatively greater outputs from Beijing and Shanghai. The distribution of China’s cancer research portfolio by anatomical site corresponded to its disease burden quite well, with a heavy emphasis on liver and stomach cancer. However, China did relatively less research on screening, diagnosis, palliative care, or quality of life.
Conclusion: The national and provincial cancer research in China in the past 10 years correlated relatively well with its disease burden and economic level, but over-emphasised basic research compared with prevention, screening and end-of-life care.

Keywords: Chinese cancer research, burden of disease, comparison with GDP, anatomical site, research type

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