It is sometimes called Cantonese cancer, as the inciden

e in Guangdong – 30 cases per 100,000 people – is more than 30 times higher than the rest of the world.

When Ma was a visiting scholar in the United States, he found many patients we

re Chinese-American, and most of their families were originally from Guangdong.

An epidemiology study in 2010 traced the risk gene for this type of cance

r to the Baiyue people, an ethnic group that lived in the area more than 2,000 years ago.

In 1998, the US National Comprehensive Cancer Network proposed concomitant radiothera

py and chemotherapy along with three courses of intensified adjuvant chemotherapy afterward to treat patients with a

dvanced nasopharyngeal cancer. It became the standard treatment for advanced cases around the world.

For years, Ma has wondered if it really worked for Chinese people.

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