Qidong: a crucible for studies on liver cancer etiology and prevention

Jianguo Chen, Jian Zhu, Gaoren Wang, John D. Groopman, Thomas W. Kensler

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

8 Scopus citations


Qidong (Jiangsu, China) has been of interest to cancer epidemiologists and biologists because, until recently, it was an endemic area for liver cancer, having amongst the highest incidence rates in the world. The establishment of the Qidong Cancer Registry together with the Qidong Liver Cancer Institute in 1972 has charted the patterns of liver cancer incidence and mortality in a stable population throughout a period of enormous economic, social, and environmental changes as well as of improvements in health care delivery. Updated incidence trends in Qidong are described. Notably, the China age-standardized incidence rate for liver cancer has dropped by over 50% in the past several decades. Molecular epidemiologic and genomic deep sequencing studies have affirmed that infection with hepatitis B virus as well as dietary exposure to aflatoxins through contamination of dietary staples such as corn, and to microcystins - blue-green algal toxins found in ditch and pond water - were likely important etiologic factors that account for the high incidence of liver cancer in this region. Public health initiatives to facilitate universal vaccination of newborns against HBV and to improve drinking water sources in this rural area, as well as economic and social mandates serendipitously facilitating dietary diversity, have led to precipitous declines in exposures to these etiologic factors, concomitantly driving substantive declines in the liver cancer incidence seen now in Qidong. In this regard, Qidong serves as a template for the global impact that a package of intervention strategies may exert on cancer burden.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)24-37
Number of pages14
JournalCancer Biology and Medicine
Issue number1
StatePublished - 2019


  • Aflatoxin
  • Chemoprevention
  • Hepatitis B virus
  • Liver cancer incidence
  • Microcystin
  • Mutational signature
  • Screening

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Oncology
  • Cancer Research


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