Cancer case diagnosed nearly every 6mins in Taiwan

PHOTO: Cancer case diagnosed nearly every 6mins in Taiwan

TAIPEI, Taiwan -- In 2009, one patient in Taiwan was diagnosed with cancer every six minutes; this number increased to one confirmed case every 5 minutes and 48 seconds in 2010, according to the Department of Health (DOH).

The DOH said yesterday that the number of newly diagnosed cancer patients in 2010 reached 90,649, an all-time record high.

According to DOH statistics, cancer has been the top cause of death in Taiwan for the past 31 years.

The number of male cancer patients recorded in 2010 was over 10,000 more than the number for females.

Bureau of Health Promotion (BHP) Director-General Shu-Ti Chiou said that colorectal (colon and rectal) cancer was the most frequently reported form of the disease, while the percentage of endometrial cancer patients increased the most in 2010.

“The number of colorectal cancer patients increased by 1,552 in 2010 compared to the number in 2009,” Chiou said. “Colorectal cancer has been on the top of the 10 leading cancers in Taiwan for four years.

“Consuming red meat often and having a high fat and low fiber diet are the main reasons why people in the nation are suffering from cancer. Breast cancer and colorectal cancer are both related to unhealthy lifestyles, including high fat and low fiber diet and lack of exercise.”

Meanwhile, according to DOH statistics, cancer patients are 1.7 times more likely to suffer from a second kind of cancer than people who are cancer-free. Among all types of cancer, the DOH said, oral cancer patients are 3.8 times more likely to suffer from another kind of cancer.

“Compared to the 33 countries in the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development, Taiwan's death rate and diagnosis rate for oral cancer are ranked the first.”

Chiou said that those who develop the three habits of smoking, drinking and chewing betel nut are at a much higher risk of oral cancer than those who only have one of the three habits.

“Starting from 2010,” she said, “there are four free cancer screenings, including breast cancer, cervical cancer, oral cancer and colorectal cancer, that people can take in order to discover any signs of cancer as early as possible.”

Chiou said that maintaining an ideal weight, exercising regularly, consuming vegetables and fruit often, and cutting back on cigarettes, alcohol and betel nut are key to cancer prevention.