Four non-governmental organizations from Taiwan and the US yesterday announced a memorandum of understanding to enhance breast cancer prevention in the two nations.
The Formosa Cancer Foundation said government statistics showed that the incidence rate of breast cancer in Taiwan has increased from 11.9 per 100,000 people in 1979 to 69.1 in 2013 — an increase of nearly six times in three decades.
Standardized breast cancer mortality rates during this period also increased from 6.52 deaths per 100,000 people to 11.81, the foundation said.
Foundation chief executive officer Lai Gi-ming (賴基銘) said the main reason the incidence rates and death rates of breast cancer are still rising is because even though the government provides free biannual breast cancer screening for women over 45, or older than 40 for those with family history, the screening rate is still relatively low.
“Although the government encourages women to have a regular breast cancer screening, breast cancer prevention in Taiwan is not as good as we would like,” Lai said.
“The screening rate in South Korea is about 50 to 60 percent and in the US about 70 to 80 percent, but the screening rates in Taiwan have not surpassed 40 percent,” Lai said.
“The best method for breast cancer screening is a mammogram,” Lai said.
A study by National Taiwan University College of Public Health professor Tony Chen (陳秀熙) on more than 1.4 million women who received government-funded biannual screenings between 1999 and 2009 suggested that the incidence rate of stage 2 breast cancer can be reduced by about 30 percent and deaths by about 40 percent, compared with those that did not get regular tests, Lai said.
The memorandum of understanding was signed by representatives of the Formosa Cancer Foundation, Taiwan Breast Cancer Foundation and Yong Yuan Breast Cancer Foundation of Fu Jen University, along with Susan G. Komen — one of the largest breast cancer organizations in the world.
In additionl to regular mammogram screenings, Lai said living a healthy lifestyle, including avoiding smoking, limiting alcohol consumption, exercising regularly, maintaining a healthy body weight and eating a healthy and balanced diet, can also help prevent breast cancer.
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