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Cancer rates on the rise

By Liu Zhihua ( China Daily ) Updated: 2014-04-09 09:21:39

Ma Hongbing, a tumor doctor with Ankang Hospital of Traditional Chinese Medicine in Ankang, Shaanxi province, says most of his patients are already late-stage cancer

Cancer rates on the rise

Scientist focuses on smog and micro-world 

Cancer rates on the rise

TCM herbs need strict oversight regimen 

patients when they get the diagnosis, which gives them a very dim hope of survival.

Lung, liver, stomach, esophageal and colorectal cancers are most common in the area, and many patients are under 40 - the youngest patient he treated was an 8-year-old suffering from brain cancer, while the youngest liver cancer patient he met was only 22.

He attributes the rising cancer rates to pollution, work pressure and unhealthy diets - particularly among young people. He also says people in rural areas don't have the awareness or access to undergo regular medical checkups, which may partially explain why many cancer patients are diagnosed at very late stages.

Zhang, the oncologist in Beijing, agrees.

Regular medical checkups are important for early detection. It has become a routine in cities that employers provide regular body checkups for employees. But in rural areas, the services lag behind the needs, he says.

The Chinese government has been providing free scanning for women in some places, and also does a great job in hepatitis B control, which reduces liver-cancer incidence, but more needs to be done, Zhang adds.

Individuals should adopt healthy life-styles, while the government should make efforts to control pollution and provide quality medical care to everyone, Zhang notes.

The WHO says at least one-third of cancer cases can be avoided. Zhang believes traditional Chinese medicine can provide an alternative in treating and preventing cancer.

Zhang says TCM can reduce cancer patients' suffering while they receive radiotherapy and chemotherapy, and can increase patients' life expectancy. More importantly, TCM is a framework for a healthy lifestyle and can work as a preventative measure.

"Cancer is not as life-threatening as people think, as long as it is detected early," Zhang says. "Society should work together to achieve that."

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