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Expert: China to open more lung cancer treatment centers

By Shan Juan | | Updated: 2016-11-10 14:48

China is expected to increase the number of early detection and treatment centers for lung cancer to more than 100 from the 42 it has currently, according to a senior expert.

Lung cancer is the most common form of cancer in China and is one of the biggest killers, Zhi Xiuyi, from the capital's Xuanwu Hospital, told a lung cancer treatment forum held by the Phoenix Oxford Cancer Center of Beijing Yanhua Hospital.

The proposed new centers will be located in regions with a relatively higher lung cancer prevalence and will target populations at greater risk, making earlier detection and treatment possible, he said.

According to Zhi, before the 1990s, more than 80 percent of patients diagnosed with lung cancer were already at an advanced stage and had missed the best window for treatment.

After the year 2000, comprehensive efforts such as government screening programs, regular health checkups, and increased health awareness led to a rise in early-stage lung cancer detection, particularly in large cities like Beijing and Shanghai.

Yet in the remote countryside, "the situation stayed almost the same as before", Zhi said, urging the government to bridge this gap and enhance national capacity as a whole for early detection and treatment.

Lung cancer rates are expected to rise amid risk factors such as a huge population of smokers, air pollution and traditional Chinese cooking methods, he said.

In response, Zhi recommended low-dose CT scans for lung cancer screening, as previous studies in the US have showed the practice worked better than the traditional X-ray scan for spotting early stage lung cancer — reducing the mortality rate by 20 percent.

"That's highly significant given that new treatments could help lower that percentage," he said.

However, David Kerr, chairman of Cancer Care Commission in UK, pointed out that low-dose CT scans alone report a high rate of false positives.

He suggested a new screening method using autoantibodies, which are cheaper and studies show can lead to lung cancer detection up to four years earlier than a CT scan.

Kerr's organization has been working with the Phoenix Oxford Cancer Center of Beijing Yanhua Hospital to develop world-leading cancer care, he said.

Under the cooperation agreement, cancer patients from abroad have been brought to China for more affordable, quality treatment.

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