Digital Tools for Cancer Control Equity in China (2022-2023)


Cancer is one of the leading causes of death globally. China, as a country experiencing economic transition, faces extraordinary challenges managing increasing cancer rates caused by both infections and illnesses associated with more sedentary lifestyles and richer diets. According to the GLOBOCAN2020 report, China accounted for 24% of all newly diagnosed cancer cases and 30% of the deaths worldwide. Moreover, there were significant cancer morbidity and mortality disparities across different regions and subpopulations in China. For instance, the overall incidence rate in urban areas was higher than that in rural areas, while the overall mortality rate in rural areas was higher than that in the urban areas. Both the incidence and mortality rates among men were significantly higher than those among women.    

Although the World Health Organization has recommended a set of interventions for cancer prevention and control, many of which have been implemented in China over the past ten years, there is not a comprehensive picture of cancer prevention and control in China. Computer-based technologies and tools, like Geographic Information System (GIS), can help develop a comprehensive view by synthesizing cancer-related data, policies, interventions and historical information; however, these tools have not yet been widely applied in China. 

Project Description

The primary goal of this project is to design and develop an interactive, participatory and evolving website that presents a comprehensive picture of cancer burden, disparities and practices in China to aid cancer prevention and control advocacy and research. 

Specifically, the team will use GIS and web-based tools to achieve five related goals: 

  • Organize publicly available cancer-related epidemiological data
  • Visualize cancer burdens, disparities and related socioeconomic and cultural context across different regions and demographic subpopulations
  • Digitize national/local cancer-related policy and intervention documents
  • Map current government and non-government resources for cancer prevention and care
  • Describe and present cancer experience and challenges from different stakeholders' perspectives in China

 This project will include three phases:

  1. Preparation: The team will submit an IRB application for approval and students will participate in training for systematic review and meta-analysis, GIS technologies and software use, website design and development, as well as other related skills. 
  2. Information Synthesis: Team members will conduct a systematic review of cancer-related literature, policies, documents, databases, interventions (e.g., clinical trials, healthy lifestyle education and promotion programs), support resources, experience and challenge stories, and artworks from a variety of sources (e.g., peer-reviewed journals, government and non-government agencies and organization, libraries, museum, social media). Select team members will conduct fieldwork in China (e.g., Beijing, Wuhan, Yunnan, Jiangsu, Shanghai, Chongqing) to interview key informants (e.g., policy makers, care providers, patients, care takers). 
  3. Digital Visualization: Team members will use GIS and web-based technologies and tools to design and develop an interactive and participatory website to map cancer burden and relevant data, archive cancer prevention and control policies and interventions documents, list support resources, and present cancer experience and challenge stories and images. Students will also participate in grant proposal and manuscript writing, as well as cancer advocacy artworks and events (e.g., photovoice exhibit).  

This work will raise awareness of cancer issues; identify the gaps in cancer research and practices; provide evidence for nationwide cancer prevention and control guidance; inform local policy and intervention development; and ultimately, reduce cancer burden and disparities in China. 

Anticipated Outputs

Interactive and participatory website with up-to-date cancer-related information in China; list of data sources for cancer research in China; manuscripts/abstracts for journal and conference dissemination; grant proposal for external funding; photovoice exhibit for cancer advocacy.  


Fall 2022 – Spring 2023

  • Fall 2022: Begin literature and information search and review; conduct field trips to different regions of China to collect primary and secondary information 
  • Spring 2023: Continue field trips to different regions of China; create interactive and participatory website development; write manuscript and grant proposal; prepare photovoice exhibit on campuses 

See related Data+ summer project, Analyzing the Gap in Cancer Control Equity in China (2022).


Image: Duke Kunshan University in March 2016, by Chris Hildreth

Duke Kunshan University.

Team Leaders

  • Meifang Chen, Duke Kunshan University
  • Ivan Mura, Duke Kunshan University
  • Shenglan Tang, Population Health Sciences

/graduate Team Members

  • Benjamin Mukumbya, Global Health - MSc
  • Tong Pang, Computer Science-MS

/undergraduate Team Members

  • Sydney Chen
  • Amelia Janiak
  • June Lin
  • Siran Luo, DKU Interdisciplinary Studies (BA)
  • Xinran Wang, DKU Interdisciplinary Studies (BS)
  • Kaijia Zhang, Economics (BS)
  • Chenglin Zhang, DKU Interdisciplinary Studies (BS)
  • Charlie Zong, Philosophy (AB)

/yfaculty/staff Team Members

  • Mengjie Zou, Duke Kunshan University

/zcommunity Team Members

  • National Cancer Center of China