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By Wang Zhenghua | CHINA DAILY | Updated: 2017-08-28 07:04

Support groups

In addition to grassroots organizations, there are several semiofficial support groups in Shanghai, such as the Yankang Center. When it was founded in 2003, it was the first cancer recovery group to be established by a hospital the Fudan University Shanghai Cancer Center.

"We offer classes for all the breast cancer patients in the hospital, teaching them professional ways of dealing with the disease, psychologically and physically," said Huang Jialing, one of the founders, who is also secretary-general of the hospital's surgical department.

Since March, the hospital's social work department has held meetings for breast cancer patients. They are usually attended by about 30 people, who can share their questions, fears and anxieties, and listen to responses and advice from experts.

More than 100 cancer rehabilitation organizations are registered nationwide, according to the China Anti-Cancer Association. Some were founded by hospitals, while others were established independently.

With the exception of groups in the country's four municipalities-Beijing, Tianjin, Shanghai and Chongqing-which rely on donations, all the organizations receive financial support from the government.

Research conducted by the association into the quality of life of 10,000 randomly selected breast cancer patients nationwide shows that the survival rates of members of rehabilitation groups are much higher than those of people who fight the disease alone.

"However, we have to acknowledge that people who join groups are basically healthier than those who don't, which is a limitation of the research," said Zhen Rong, secretary-general of the association's cancer rehabilitation society.

"For many people, the support of their peers is more welcome and effective than that of medical staff because other patients understand the emotional and physical toll cancer takes on its victims."

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