Japan Data

One in Four Deaths in Japan Caused by Cancer

Health Lifestyle

Cancer is the most common cause of death for Japanese people who are 40 and over, while suicide is the leading cause among young people.

In 2020, 378,356 people died of cancer in Japan, according to a Ministry of Health, Labor, and Welfare report. This accounts for 27.6% of all deaths that year and equates to one in four people dying of cancer. The death rate for cancer—the number of deaths per 100,000 people—has been rising steadily and in 2020 reached 307.0. For men, the type of cancer with the highest death rate at 88.8 was lung cancer (53,244 deaths), followed by stomach cancer (27,769), and colorectal cancer (27,715). For women, the most common type with a death rate of 38.0 was colorectal cancer (24,069) and then lung cancer (22,337).

The second most common cause of death was heart disease (excluding hypertension) with 205,518 cases and third was old age with 132,435. MHLW guidance states that old age (rōsui) should be recorded as the cause when there is no other clear cause of death and any secondary condition is the result of old age. Cases had been on a downward trend, but since 2005 have started rising again.

Deaths caused by pneumonia fell by 17,073 from the previous year to 78,445. It is thought that people wearing masks and minimizing trips during the pandemic led to prevention of respiratory diseases other than COVID-19.

By gender and age, the proportion of deaths caused by cancer increases with age, peaking at 55–59 years for women and 65–69 years for men. For both men and women, suicide was responsible for a notably high proportion of deaths between the ages of 15 and 34.

(Translated from Japanese. Banner photo: © Pixta)

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