Cancer experts aim to install uniform treatment plan
Updated: 2020-06-23 (China Daily)
Chinese experts are trying to implement uniform diagnosis and treatment protocols for cancer across the country to increase the life span of patients and narrow the urban-rural gap in the way the disease is handled.
The five-year survival rate among cancer patients in China has increased to 40.5 percent from 30 percent 10 years ago, Liu Zhihua, a professor at the National Cancer Center and Cancer Hospital under the Chinese Academy of Medical Sciences, said at a conference organized by the NCC, Cancer Foundation of China and other institutions.
Despite the improved survival rate, cancer patients in China still don't live as long as those in the United States and some European countries as the country's rate of early diagnosis is relatively low, Liu added.
"People living in some rural areas and remote regions may not go to the hospital for cancer screening and many cancer cases are diagnosed at an advanced stage, when they are harder to treat successfully," Liu said.
According to Ma Fei, an expert at the NCC, cancer screening technology and early diagnosis methods vary among areas. Some grassroots medical institutions need to improve rational drug use, treatment accuracy and management of accompanying diseases.
Ma said an alliance for management of the illness, mainly focusing on breast cancer, has been initiated to improve early diagnosis and chronic disease management.
Comprehensive treatment of cancer requires a change from a disease-centered diagnosis and treatment model to a patient-centered one, Ma said, adding that efforts should be made to improve cancer awareness and screening of high-risk populations.
"We should pay full attention to other health problems that cancer patients may face, including hypertension, diabetes, nausea and vomiting, and depression. We also need to involve doctors from more disciplines to jointly make reasonable treatment plans," Ma said.
Statistics show that the five-year survival rate of breast cancer patients in China has reached 83.2 percent.
Xu Binghe, a breast cancer expert and a professor at NCC, said besides screening to detect early-stage cancer, multidisciplinary treatment should be popularized to reduce the risk of accompanying diseases of breast cancer.
For some postmenopausal breast cancer patients diagnosed more than 10 years ago, cardiovascular diseases have caused more deaths than cancer itself. Some cancer drugs may also lead to abnormal bone metabolism, osteoporosis and even fractures, Xu said.
Xu, Ma and other cancer experts are promoting standardized diagnosis and treatment of breast cancer to grassroots medical institutions through demonstration centers. Altogether, 200 hospitals have been selected for participation in the first batch of pilot projects for breast cancer diagnosis and treatment.
In addition, a national monitoring platform for anti-cancer drugs in clinical applications also helps provide a reference for policies on drug management, promoting the standardization of breast cancer diagnosis and rational drug use, and narrowing the diagnosis and treatment gap between urban and rural areas, Xu said.