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Breast Cancer Leading Cause of Death Among Shanghai Women

Breast cancer is the top killer of women in Shanghai, with the incidence tripling over the past 35 years, said medical experts over the weekend at a seminar promoting World Breast Cancer Awareness Month.

There is one breast cancer patient among every 300 local women, the forum heard.

"Though breast cancer is the most risky cancer, early detection and proper medication can effectively cure the disease and improve people's quality of life," said Dr. Shen Zhenzhou, director of Shanghai Tumor Hospital's surgery department." About 98 percent of patients in the early stages can be cured under current medical standards.

"However, 80 percent of patients have the disease confirmed when it is in the middle or terminal stages," he said. "Delayed discovery results in poor treatment effects and many women lose their breasts through surgery in order to prevent the spread of cancer."

Experts said that stress, smoking, alcohol, lack of exercise, delivering children later in life and never breast-feeding all contribute to the increase of breast cancer. Career women such as office clerks, businesswomen and teachers account for 40 percent of patients.

The most important ways to combat the cancer are through regular checks, early detection and early treatment. Experts suggest women should examine their breasts every month and take an annual medical checkup to detect any abnormalities as early as possible.

"Thanks to the promotion of public education, checkups and improved technology, patients' survival rate rose by 20 percent although the global incidence of breast cancer grew by eight percent in the past 20 years," said Shen. "The promotion of breast cancer education and routine examination in China still lags behind the West."

The China Anti-Cancer Association has updated its guidance on breast cancer diagnosis and treatment this year, promoting the latest technology including gene therapy.

(Shanghai Daily October 16, 2007)

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