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Lung Cancer Fight Needs Legislation

The Chinese Anti-cancer Association on Sunday said it will recruit medical experts to work out proposals to control the use of tobacco in China.

The association intends to lobby the government during the annual session of the National People's Congress next year in an attempt to promote the prevention and control of lung cancer.

Health officials at a lung cancer education conference in Shanghai yesterday said the government should take more action to control the spread of the disease through policies such as tightening tobacco production and sales.

They also said lung checkups for high-risk groups should be incorporated into the medical insurance system, and promoted public education drives to aid early detection and treatment. National cases of the disease rose from 370,000 in 2000 to 500,000 in 2005.

"China grows more tobacco than any other country. It manufactures more cigarettes than any other country. Chinese people buy more cigarettes than anyone else, and China has the largest number of smokers," said Dr Zhi Xiuyi from the Chinese Anti-cancer Association. "As a result, China has the highest number of casualties due to smoking."

Zhi said lung cancer had become the top cancer-related cause of death in China's urban areas. Lung cancer accounts for 22.7 percent of total cancer-related deaths.

Medical professionals cannot control the disease on their own, he said, adding that the government should play a more important role in the battle. As well as increased regulation of the tobacco industry, the authorities should give more support to early detection and early treatment of lung cancer, experts echoed at the conference.

The mortality rate of people suffering from cancer of the esophagus, stomach and cervix have all dropped conspicuously as public education and government awareness have increased. Cancers related to lifestyle and environment are on the rise, especially lung cancer and breast cancer.

"The death rate of lung cancer has grown by 465 percent and breast cancer by 96 percent in the past 30 years, according to the Ministry of Health," Zhi said.

The association has cooperated with the ministry to set up two detections and early treatment research bases in Yunnan Province and Tianjin this year, and plans to include big cities such as Shanghai and Beijing in its plans.

(Shanghai Daily November 3, 2008)

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