Sun, Sep 24, 2006 - Page 2 News List

Experts focus on need for national cancer care web

By Flora Wang  /  STAFF REPORTER

Establishing a tightly knit cancer care network is vitally important to the nation's efforts to prevent and cure cancer, aca-demics and medical professionals said yesterday.

In a seminar yesterday, the Bureau of Health Promotion and several medical associations focused on how to establish a cancer patient care network with quality services.

The president of the Hope Society for Cancer Care, Wang Cheng-hsu (王正旭), said at the seminar that patients with cancer suffer not only physical torment but also economic and family pressure.

"They usually have to deal with many more problems than we can imagine," he said, adding that they should be offered a health care system networked with community and public resources.

Chinese Oncology Society president Hsieh Jui-kun (謝瑞坤) told the seminar attendees that given that patients in Taiwan have access to ample resources, the real question is how those resources can be coordinated.

Drawing from her clinical experience, National Taipei College of Nursing Professor Chiu Hsiu-yu (邱秀渝) said that the development of a tightly knit network does not mean overwhelming patients with plenty of resources, but rather refers to helping them establish connections to the services they need.

"I always tell my students to at least make a phone call to cancer patients in order to connect them to possible health care resources they may need," she said. "We [medical professionals] have to be a bridge in the network."

Chiu cited statistics from the Bureau of National Health Insurance and said that the survival rate for common types of cancer such as breast cancer, intestinal cancer and lung cancer in Taiwan remained low compared to the rate in Western countries. According to the Department of Health estimates, she said, the number of cancer patients in Taiwan may reach 100,000 people by 2020 as the population continues to age.

The department has set a goal of achieving zero growth in the mortality rate for cancer within the next 10 years in its National Cancer Prevention and Cure Five-Year Project report issued last year.

But Chiu said that achieving that goal will require coordination and cooperation between medical institutions, policy makers and NGOs.

She said that the Comprehensive Cancer Control Initiative supported by the US Center for Disease Control and the American Cancer Society exemplifies the type of tightly connected network that the nation needs.

The program, which has been in operation for about six years, serves as a collaborative platform allowing a community and its partners -- professionals, NGOs and governments -- to pool related resources in order to promote cancer prevention and detection and help reduce the burden on patients.

"There should be a dialogue between the government, public support groups, patients and their health care teams," Chiu said. "Different parts of the network should build up partnerships instead of competing for government funding."

There should be stakeholders to coordinate efforts in the network and mobilize support in order to actively reach out to patients, she said.

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