Early screening considered key in combating incidence rate
China's first national cancer center will be inaugurated within the year to enhance the country's capacity for prevention, early screening and treatment of the disease, said a senior health official.
Lei Zhenglong, deputy director of the disease prevention and control bureau of the Ministry of Health, made the remarks on Sunday at an event to mark National Cancer Week, which starts on April 15 every year.
"The cancer center, to be headquartered at the Cancer Institute and Hospital at the Chinese Academy of Medical Sciences in Beijing, will help better guide the government in making policies and taking countermeasures to curb the rising incidence of cancer," he said.
The mainland records about 2.8 million new cancer cases each year, and the number is expected to exceed 3.8 million in a decade, official statistics show. Lung cancer is the most common and also has the highest mortality rate in the country.
Proven risk factors for cancer include smoking, an unhealthy diet, obesity, lack of exercise and pollution, experts said.
According to Shi Yuankai, vice-president of the Chinese Academy of Medical Sciences Cancer Hospital, among people between the ages of 30 and 60, cancer has become the leading fatal disease on the mainland and the overall prevalence is steadily on the rise.
The center will assist the Ministry of Health in devising a State-level action plan for cancer intervention, said He Jie, president of the hospital.
Historically, cancer wasn't viewed as much of a problem, given its relatively low incidence in earlier eras, Minister of Health Chen Zhu has said.
"But as it has joined the top health challenges facing China, we need to introduce a national road map" to curb it, he said.
To provide technical support, "we'll enhance the country's cancer registry system to better learn the characteristics of the country's cancer epidemic", said He. "That will help with more targeted intervention efforts."
There are 195 cancer registries on the mainland, covering about 185 million people, less than 14 percent of the population, official statistics show.
As the number of registries increases, more data will be available for decision-makers to introduce more effective measures, he said.
Also, the center will also help formulate standard clinical guidelines for cancer treatment, he said.
"Cancer treatment, particularly in small hospitals, needs to be better regulated and guided," he said.
On the prevention side, he urged people aged 40 and older to receive annual cancer screenings to ensure early detection and treatment. Currently, most cancer is detected in the late stages on the mainland.