Cancer has topped the list of the 10 leading causes of death in the nation for the past three decades, with one person dying of cancer every 13 minutes, according to the Hope Foundation for Cancer Care (HOPE).
The foundation, in an attempt to bring “the concept of cancer prevention in Taiwan up to speed,” has invited Union for International Cancer Control chief executive officer Cary Adams to Taiwan to raise cancer awareness and to dispel some damaging myths about cancer; for example that cancer is merely a natural result of old age, predestined and terminal.
On Friday, presenting the results of a recent survey with almost 1,500 respondents, the foundation said that close to 90 percent of those polled were unswayed by the myths and more than 90 percent have the correct understanding of cancer control and prevention.
HOPE chairman Wang Cheng-hsu (王正旭) said the biggest misconception among Taiwanese is the belief that “cancer is a disease of civilization, occurring mostly in developed countries,” with more than 60 percent of those surveyed agreeing with the statement.
“The truth is, cancer cases in developing countries amount to 47 percent of the total cancer cases in the world, and 55 percent of cancer deaths occur in less-developed regions,” Wang said.
The survey also revealed that Taiwanese aged 20 to 29 have the lowest level of cancer awareness, which might be attributed to their false belief that their youth shields them from developing cancer, the foundation said.
“However, the young are definitely not immune to cancer,” Wang said. “Young people can be affected by breast cancer and lymphoma, though there is still no clear understanding of the cause of these cancers in young people.”
Bureau of Health Promotion Director-General Chiou Shu-ti (邱淑媞) said the government has initiated a “20 by 20” project, aiming to reduce the cancer mortality rate by 20 percent by 2020.