Health-promotion officials say not treating diagnosed cancers presents a big risk
The Health Promotion Administration (HPA) on Friday urged people diagnosed with cancer in Taiwan to get treatment immediately, warning that putting it off for even three months could increase the disease’s mortality rate dramatically.
In one of several health briefings marking World Hepatitis Day on July 28, HPA Cancer Prevention and Control Group Director Wu Chien-yuan ( ) said 18 percent of all cancer patients do not get treatment within three months of their diagnosis.
The one-year mortality rate for these cases is 53 percent, compared with a mortality rate of 17 percent for patients who receive treatment immediately, said Wu, citing the results of a 2012 survey on cancer that were released in May.
In the case of liver cancer, failing to get treatment in the first three months after diagnosis results in a one-year mortality rate of 34 percent.
The survey, which offers the most recent detailed picture of cancer trends in Taiwan, found that 40 percent of those diagnosed with the disease bypassed treatment because they were old and did not think it was necessary.
Another 30 percent opted against treatment because of a fear of surgery and side effects from chemotherapy, and 14 percent cited concerns that the process would place an undue financial burden on their families.
In actual practice, Wu said, about 70 percent of all patients who discontinue cancer treatment do so out of concern for the potential side effects.
HPA Director- General Chiou Shu-ti ( ) said that with the current advances in medicine, cancer does not have to be scary, and that putting off treatment is in fact the true killer.
To raise greater awareness of cancer treatment, the HPA launched the Cancer Patient Navigation Program ( ) in 2014, in which more than 80 hospitals are currently participating.
It provides cancer patients with multiple avenues of care, including financial support, medical advice and information, as well as immediate medical care.