About 90 percent of women believe the government should allocate more resources to the prevention of cancer in women, a recent survey conducted by a newly established women’s cancer society showed.
Yesterday marked the establishment of the Women’s Cancer Society of Taiwan (台灣女性癌症協會), the first such society in the country dedicated to caring for women cancer patients. During the press conference, Tseng Chi-jen (曾志仁), society chairman and chief of Chiayi Chang Gung Memorial Hospital’s Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology, presented the findings of a survey on major problems caused by cancer that affect women.
A total of 910 women over 20 years of age from various parts of the country were surveyed last month.
Of them, 21.4 percent said they had a family member or friend who had been affected by breast or cervical cancer. Of those who have breast or cervical cancer, “fear of dying” was the main concern, with 36.8 percent of respondents admitting to this worry, followed by “breast ablation,” “removal of uterus” and “loss of reproductive abilities.”
“Many women worry that they won’t be able to bear children and that their husbands would abandon them,” said Tseng, who has seen this happen to many of his patients.
Tseng said that many of his patients’ husbands leave because they cannot deal with the fact that many aspects of their lives are changed dramatically by cancer.
“Women [with cervical cancer] who have had surgery may suffer from leaking urine through their vagina. When this happens, [the woman] cannot have sexual intercourse ... Recently, the average age of cervical cancer patients has become lower, so their husbands are also younger. Many young husbands have affairs or leave their wives as a result,” he said.
Citing the survey, Tseng said that 43.8 percent believed the government was not doing enough to provide medical care and funding for female cancer patients, while 83.5 percent said women patients in minority groups should have priority in terms of government funding.
One of the society’s goals is to push for integration in the areas of cancer prevention and post-cancer therapy and counseling, Tseng said. Cancer prevention measures such as pap smears, breast cancer screening and vaccines should all be combined in one facility to increase the rate of cancer prevention, he said.
Tseng said he had noticed there were no support groups for cervical cancer patients in Taiwan, so he hoped the society could provide a community of support for these women.
Tseng can be reached at 05-3621000 or at email@example.com.