Pollution, poverty affect cancer treatment in China

Last Updated: Mon, Feb 04, 2013 16:10 hrs

Beijing, Feb 4 (IANS) Cancer and its treatment in China is influenced by air pollution, poverty and a fledgling medical insurance system, the health ministry said Monday on the occasion of World Cancer Day.

The same type of cancer shows different characteristics in the East and the West, and treatment also varies due to social and economic factors, Xinhua cited the ministry's Health News magazine as saying.

According to the "national report on tumour registration 2012", there are 3.12 million new cases of cancer each year in China.

There are 2.7 million deaths caused by cancer, which represents 13 percent of the total number of deaths in the country.

Breast cancer is on the rise in China as a result of changes in lifestyles, living conditions, diet and westernisation of cities, said breast cancer expert Jiang Zefei.

The peak age for breast cancer in China is 10 years earlier -- at 48.7 years -- than that for white women, he said.

In terms of treatment, while women in developed countries have better access to tests against breast cancer like national programmes, Chinese women mainly rely on simple self-examinations without the use of medical devices for disease detection, he said.

He said many poorly-insured Chinese patients have their breasts removed because they cannot afford long-term radiotherapy.

Wang Jun, a chest surgery expert in Beijing, said air pollution, living conditions and diet were among the factors causing cancer.

In China, the age of colorectal cancer incidence is also 10 years earlier than that in the West.

The internationally recommended therapy for rectal cancer is a 25-day radio-chemotherapy prior to surgery, with a six-to-eight-day break in between.

However, cash-strapped Chinese patients find the therapy lengthy and costly.

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