Can­cer places 100b-yuan strain on China’s econ­omy

China Daily (Canada) - - FRONT PAGE - By SHAN JUAN in Bei­jing shan­juan@chi­

Can­cer cases are ris­ing rapidly in China and are es­ti­mated to cost the coun­try 100 bil­lion yuan ($15 bil­lion) a year, ac­cord­ing to health or­ga­ni­za­tions and ex­perts.

The World Health Or­ga­ni­za­tion, mark­ing World Can­cer Day, which falls on Feb 4, said more than 3 mil­lion Chi­nese de­velop can­cer each year and 2.2 mil­lion of them die.

In large cities like Bei­jing, the av­er­age med­i­cal cost for each can­cer pa­tient is up to 300,000 yuan. Many pa­tients aban­don treat­ment be­cause they can­not af­ford it.

“(The 100 bil­lion yuan)

is def­i­nitely an un­der­es­ti­mate, but can­cer is on the rise, for sure,” said Wang Jin­wan, a physi­cian at the Chi­nese Academy of Med­i­cal Sciences’ Can­cer In­sti­tute and Hos­pi­tal.

Chen Wan­qing, direc­tor of the Na­tional Cen­tral Can­cer Reg­istry un­der the Na­tional Health and Fam­ily Plan­ning Com­mis­sion, said deaths from the dis­ease place not only a bur­den on pa­tients’ fam­i­lies but also on the na­tional econ­omy, to the tune of more than 100 bil­lion yuan a year.

Lung can­cer is the most com­mon type di­ag­nosed among Chi­nese men and the lead­ing cause of can­cer deaths in China. Among women in the coun­try, breast can­cer is the type most com­monly di­ag­nosed and one of the dead­li­est.

Bern­hard Schwart­lander, the WHO rep­re­sen­ta­tive in China, said, “The growth of can­cer in China is fe­ro­cious. We must do all that we can to pre­vent can­cer and spare as many Chi­nese fam­i­lies as pos­si­ble the heartache, pain, suf­fer­ing and fi­nan­cial hard­ship of a can­cer di­ag­no­sis.”

He men­tioned Chi­nese singer Yao Beina who died from breast can­cer on Jan 16 at age 33.

He sug­gested that all women should per­form regular self­ex­am­i­na­tions of their breasts, con­sult their health­care providers to en­sure they are us­ing cor­rect tech­niques, and talk to their doc­tors im­me­di­ately if they no­tice any ab­nor­mal­i­ties.

He at­taches great im­por­tance to early de­tec­tion, say­ing aware­ness is the first step to early de­tec­tion and im­prov­ing can­cer out­comes.

Early-stage can­cers are less lethal and more treat­able than late-stage cases, he added.

Cheng Shu­jun, a can­cer spe­cial­ist in Bei­jing and an aca­demic at the Chi­nese Academy of En­gi­neer­ing, said China’s five-year can­cer sur­vival rate stands at 30 per­cent, far lower than 70 per­cent in the US.

Schwart­lander said, “Im­prov­ing early di­ag­no­sis and treat­ment ser­vices must con­tinue to be a fo­cus of can­cer con­trol ef­forts, given that twothirds of can­cer cases are not pre­ventable.”

For those that are pre­ventable, “im­prov­ing can­cer pre­ven­tion in China would save many mil­lions of lives ev­ery year,” he added.

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