World Cancer Day: Evaluating China's efforts against cancer
By Guo Meiping
Malignant tumors, or tumors made of cancer cells, are a serious threat to the health of the Chinese people. Cancer prevention and control has been grim due to the gradual aggravation of the country's aging population and the accelerating process of industrialization and urbanization.
Every February 4 marks World Cancer Day, an international day to raise awareness of cancer and to encourage its prevention, detection, and treatment.
According to a report titled "The Global Burden of Cancer" released last year, China accounts for 23.7 percent of new cases and 30.2 percent of deaths caused by cancer around the world.
The numbers are above the global average. The country has responded with building a national cancer prevention control mechanism and network – both of which are in its preliminary stages. National and provincial cancer centers are being gradually established.
"China has been making great progress in cancer prevention and control," Bai Xiaofeng, committee member of Cancer Rehabilitation Society of the Chinese Anti-cancer Association, told CGTN through email.
Common cancer misconceptions
Early diagnosis and treatment is key to cancer prevention. However, misconceptions persist.
"Lots of people think that early tumors can only be picked out by scanning the whole body with PET-CT, but it's actually a waste of medical resources,” Bai told CGTN, adding that screening should be targeted, quick and easy.
Another common misconception is relying heavily on tumor markers.
"Some people only take tumor markers alone for cancer screening, which is not reasonable,” said Bai. “Normal tumor markers can not completely rule out cancer risk, it needs to be combined with other specific examinations, such as CT.”
Bai, who is also a member of Beijing Ivy Medical Expert League which is a non-governmental organization consisting of top doctors, told CGTN that the league has been providing free clinics around the country in order to raise people's awareness and spread accurate knowledge on cancer.
Applications of technology
Various types of technology have been applied successfully in cancer treatment in recent years. Bai mentioned two examples, 3D printing and robotic surgery.
With the help of 3D printing, medical devices can be customized based on patients' parameters. Because they're made for each patient, the devices have an easier time being accepted by the body, while improving patients' comfort levels.
"In terms of tumor treatment, 3D printing can help with tumor model reconstruction, conduct accurate preoperative evaluation, and formulate best treatment plans," Bai said.
Most surgeries nowadays are performed in the shortest and least invasive manner – robotics. According to Bai, robot surgery is developing rapidly in China, and its application in the surgical treatment of malignant tumors is becoming increasingly prominent.