Cer­vi­cal cancer in­creases among young Chi­nese women, doc­tor says

China Daily (Canada) - - CHINA - By SHAN JUAN shan­juan@chi­nadaily.com.cn

More young Chi­nese women are con­tract­ing cer­vi­cal cancer, with nearly a third of new cases now in women 35 and younger, a top specialist said.

Lang Jinghe, a mem­ber of the Chi­nese Academy of En­gi­neer­ing and a gy­ne­col­o­gist at Pek­ing Union Med­i­cal Col­lege Hospi­tal in Bei­jing, re­vealed the trend at an aware­ness-rais­ing event on Thurs­day.

The per­cent­age of women 35 and younger who get the dis­ease was less than 5 per­cent in the 1980s, Lang said. Cer­vi­cal cancer is more likely to be found in women 45 to 55 years old.

China is cur­rently es­ti­mated to have 130,000 new cer­vi­cal-cancer cases each year, ac­count­ing for 28 per­cent of the world’s to­tal. The dis­ease kills up to 30,000 in China an­nu­ally, ac­cord­ing to the Na­tional Health and Fam­ily Plan­ning Com­mis­sion.

“China has to act to curb the dis­ease, which in fact can be pre­vented, treated, cured and even elim­i­nated,” he said.

A na­tional cer­vi­cal cancer screen­ing pro­gram will be launched this year to test 10 mil­lion Chi­nese women an­nu­ally, he said.

Thomas Wright, pro­fes­sor of pathol­ogy and cell bi­ol­ogy at New York Pres­by­te­rian Hospi­tal at the Columbia Univer­sity Med­i­cal Cen­ter, said he ap­pre­ci­ates the ini­tia­tive, cit­ing the US ex­pe­ri­ence.

The pap test screen­ing method, which be­gan there in the 1920s, has helped re­duce cer­vi­cal cancer cases dra­mat­i­cally among US women in the past 40 years, he said.

Cer­vi­cal cancer starts with a hu­man papil­lo­mavirus in­fec­tion via sex and it usu­ally takes 10 years for the in­fec­tion to progress to in­va­sive cancer, med­i­cal ex­perts said.

There­fore, “we have the time to in­ter­vene”, Wright said, adding that de­tect­ing the pre­cur­sor is the key to cer­vi­cal cancer preven­tion and in­ter­ven­tion.

But he also pointed out that med­i­cal in­ter­ven­tion is nec­es­sary only for so-called high­risk in­fec­tion.

HPV in­fec­tion is rel­a­tively com­mon, and in the US, about 80 per­cent of women at a sex­u­ally ac­tive age con­tract the virus at some point in their lives, ac­cord­ing to the US Cen­ters for Dis­ease Con­trol and Preven­tion.

But many women can clear up the in­fec­tion on their own and pre­vent it from be­com­ing cancer, he said.

Wright said there are more than 100 dif­fer­ent types of HPV, but only 14 can cause cer­vi­cal cancer.

HPV 16 and 18 cause more than 70 per­cent of cer­vi­cal cancer glob­ally, in­clud­ing China, he said, cit­ing in­ter­na­tional stud­ies.

But the cur­rent main­stream method of screen­ing ac­tu­ally misses 25 to 50 per­cent of can­cers and pre­cur­sor le­sions, said Lang, the gy­ne­col­o­gist.

He urged women 30 and older to have a screen­ing at least once ev­ery three years.

For preven­tion, Lang re­ferred to HPV vac­cines that can pro­tect women against cer­vi­cal cancer.

The vac­cines, by two multi­na­tional phar­ma­ceu­ti­cal com­pa­nies, are in the reg­is­tra­tion process with China’s top drug author­ity for ap­proval in the Chi­nese mar­ket, First Fi­nan­cial Daily re­ported on Thurs­day.

China has to act to curb the dis­ease, which in fact can be pre­vented, treated, cured and even elim­i­nated.” LANG JINGHE MEM­BER OF THE CHI­NESE ACADEMY OF EN­GI­NEER­ING AND A GY­NE­COL­O­GIST AT PEK­ING UNION MED­I­CAL COL­LEGE HOSPI­TAL IN BEI­JING,

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