The Health Promotion Administration (HPA) yesterday urged people to regularly undergo fecal immunochemical testing (FIT) even if they have no suspicious symptoms, after research found that the test can effectively reduce the mortality rate for colon cancer, the nation’s No. 1 killer.
The administration and the National Taiwan University’s College of Public Health jointly monitored — over an average period of 3.1 years — the health of 1.16 million Taiwanese who underwent an FIT test between 2004 and 2009.
The research cross-analyzed the information gleaned in the project with the nation’s cancer registry records and cause-of-death data to ascertain the respective risks for colon cancer among those who had received the screening test and those who had not.
“The research participants accounted for 21.4 percent of all the 5.42 million eligible test recipients aged from 50 to 69 during the period. Among them, 30 percent underwent FIT regularly,” HPA Cancer Prevention Section Director Wu Chien-yuan (吳建遠) said.
Wu said the research showed that with a screening test rate of 21.4 percent, the death rate for colon cancer decreased by 10 percent among the screening group.
A further drop of 23 percent in the mortality rate was observed if the screening test rate increased to 40 percent in the group, Wu said, adding that the death rate could even decrease by 36 percent when the test rate reached 60 percent.
Research team member and National Taiwan University Hospital gastroenterology doctor Chiu Han-mo (邱瀚模) said that on average, four out of every 100 individuals who underwent an FIT tested positive for blood in the stool.
“People with a positive FIT result are 10 times more prone to developing colon cancer than those with a negative result. They are urged to undergo a colonoscopy to see if there are any precancerous colon polyps,” Chiu said.
The FIT is efficient at detecting blood in and around the stool, Chiu said, meaning it is likely to become more popular as a colon cancer screening test.
The administration said the government started offering free FITs to people aged from 50 to 69 in 2004, before further expanding the scheme in 2010 to make more than 1 million people eligible for the free screening.
After factoring in the advice given by the US Preventive Services Task Force, the HPA raised the maximum age limit for the scheme from 69 to 74 in 2013. As a result, the screening rate in the nation increased from just 4.8 percent in 2004 to 61.5 percent by the end of last year.
“Nearly 70 percent of colon cancer patients who received a nFIT caught the disease in its early stages, while only 7 percent saw their illness detected after it had already reached stage four,” the HPA said.
“On the other hand, nearly 20 percent of those who had never undergone the test were diagnosed with stage four colon cancer,” it added.
Additional reporting by CNA
SELF-RELIANCE: Taiwan would struggle to receive aid in the event of an invasion, so it must prepare to ‘hold its own’ for the first 70 days of a war, a defense expert said Taiwan should strengthen infrastructure, stock up on reserves and step up efforts to encourage Taiwanese to fight against an enemy, legislators and experts said on Tuesday last week. The comments sought to summarize what the nation should learn from the Russian invasion of Ukraine, which has exceeded 300 days, since Feb. 24 last year. Institute of National Defense and Security Research fellow Su Tzu-yun (蘇紫雲) said that the war in Ukraine highlighted the importance of being ready for war. Taiwan’s development of an “asymmetrical warfare” doctrine and extending mandatory conscription to one year is a good start to preparation of defense against a
The Central Epidemic Command Center yesterday said it would delay the lifting of the indoor mask mandate, citing public health considerations and ongoing discussions on how the policy should be implemented. Earlier this week, Centers for Disease Control Deputy Director-General Chuang Jen-hsiang (莊人祥), who is the CECC’s spokesman, said officials from several ministries were working on the policy and an announcement would be made yesterday. However, Deputy Minister of Health and Welfare Victor Wang (王必勝), who heads the CECC, yesterday said that the policy was still under review. Wang said its implementation would be “delayed slightly” due to three main factors. First, the center
END OF SERIES: As the first generation of Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccines are set to expire, the CECC would no longer offer them to children younger than four years old The Central Epidemic Command Center (CECC) yesterday reported the nation’s first case of a person infected with the Omicron XBB.1.5 subvariant of SARS-CoV-2. The Taiwanese man in his 20s arrived from Canada on Jan. 22, said Centers for Disease Control (CDC) Deputy Director-General Philip Lo (羅一鈞), who is deputy head of the CECC’s medical response division. He tested positive after reporting having a runny nose and muscle soreness while in airport quarantine, Lo said. The XBB.1.5 subvariant is the dominant strain in the US, but there is no evidence to suggest that it causes more severe illness than other Omicron subvariants, he said,
NORMALIZING TIES: The delegation led by the KMT’s Johnny Chiang is to meet with British lawmakers, think tanks and business groups to discuss developments A legislative delegation led by Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) Legislator Johnny Chiang (江啟臣) arrived in the UK yesterday to rally support for Taiwan’s bid to join the Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership (CPTPP). Chiang heads the Legislative Yuan’s Taiwan-UK Interparliamentary Amity Association. The delegation also includes KMT legislators Ma Wen-chun (馬文君), Wen Yu-hsia (溫玉霞), Wu Sz-huai (吳斯懷), Sandy Yu (游毓蘭) and Wu I-ding (吳怡玎). The group is to meet with British lawmakers Alicia Kearns, who chairs the British House of Commons Foreign Affairs Select Committee; Tobias Ellwood, who chairs the House Defence Select Committee; and Bob Stewart, who cochairs the