Breast cancer and cervical cancer were the second and 14th-most common causes of death due to cancer in Taipei last year, the Taipei Department of Health said yesterday, urging female residents to undergo government-funded cancer screening tests regularly.
Breast cancer has the highest incidence rate among women who have cancer in Taiwan, with the 2017 national cancer registry report showing that 13,965 women were diagnosed with the disease that year, which translates to about 38 women per day, Formosa Cancer Foundation chief executive officer Lai Gi-ming (賴基銘) said.
“Getting a mammogram is effective for detecting precancerous breast lesions and cancer, and if breast cancer is diagnosed at an early stage [stage 1 or stage 2] and treated, the five-year survival rate can be as high as 90 percent,” he said.
A total of 110,650 residents received the free mammograms last year, up 10.86 percent from the year before, Taipei Department of Health Commissioner Huang Shier-chieg (黃世傑) said.
The city’s breast screening rate also increased from 38.18 percent in 2016 to 47.68 percent last year, he said, adding that 9,743 suspected cases and 650 confirmed cases were found through the tests and received treatment.
“The risk factors of breast cancer include early onset of periods, late menopause, not having children, having their first pregnancy over the age of 30, not breastfeeding and a family history of breast cancer,” Lai said.
“Lifestyle-related risk factors include smoking, drinking, an unhealthy diet and physical inactivity,” he said.
People with a family history of breast cancer should get a mammogram at least once every two years, he added.
In addition, 1,418 women were diagnosed with cervical cancer in 2017, which translates to about four women per day, he said.
As cervical cancer had taken the lives of many women in the past, increased awareness of the need to get Pap smear tests, coupled with medical advancements, has lowered its mortality rate to fewer than three per 100,000 people in recent years, he said, adding that most people found to have precancerous lesions or who are in the early stages of the cancer can be effectively treated.
“Early-stage cervical cancer usually has no symptoms and can be easily overlooked, so we urge people to get a Pap smear at least once every three years,” Lai said, adding that those whose tests showed abnormalities should get a follow-up exam as soon as possible.
To encourage more women to get mammograms and Pap tests regularly, the department and the foundation have collaborated to offer prize scratch cards to eligible female residents if they take the test between Aug. 1 and Nov. 30.
Women with a household registry in Taipei; are aged between 45 and 69 years, or aged between 40 and 44 and have a second-degree family member who had breast cancer; and have not received a mammogram last year or this year can join the lottery, they said.
Female residents aged 30 to 70 who are sexually active and have not received a Pap smear between 2018 and this year also qualify, they said.
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