Cancer screening benefits patients, administration says

By Alison Hsiao  /  Staff reporter

Sun, Jul 28, 2013 - Page 3

One out of every 93 people who go for cancer screening tests turns out to suffer from cancer or is experiencing precancerous conditions, the Health Promotion Administration said.

The agency last year subsidized 222 hospitals to execute the Cancer Screening Quality Improvement Plan. Under the plan, a total of nearly 2.69 million people have been screened for cancer. The number of screening tests completed in these hospitals was 1.1 times higher than in 2011 and 2.1 times higher than in 2009.

The Ministry of Health and Welfare provide 100 percent funding to hospitals to screen for four types of cancer — cervical cancer, breast cancer, colorectal cancer and oral cancer.

The growth in the number of colon cancer screening tests completed this year under the plan was the most impressive, the agency said, showing an increase of 30 percent compared with the amount completed in 2011.

The number of people screened for cancer so far this year at the 222 hospitals account for nearly half of the total amount screened last year, which was about 5 million, Health Promotion Administration Director-General Chiou Shu-ti (邱淑媞) said.

Out of the 5 million, 40,000 people who had gone for screening have been found to have precancerous conditions, in addition to 12,000 cases of cancer confirmed by the screening.

“The patients with precancerous conditions or cancers are mostly in the early stages of the disease,” Chou said. “They can expect to be more successfully treated [than patients in the late stages of the disease].”

Chou said that 92 percent of Taiwanese visit a doctor using their National Health Insurance card at least once a year. If they can be encouraged by healthcare providers to undergo cancer screening tests, they can receive early medical intervention if needed.

This will result in not only saving a lot more lives, but also a large amount of medical expenses for treating late-stage cancers, he added.