March 28, 2011

CHINA: Breast cancer hits earlier in China

SHANGHAI / The Shanghai Daily / National / March 28, 2010

By Cai Wenjun 

Over a third of Chinese women with breast cancer start to suffer the disease at their 40s and their average age is 48, 10 years earlier than Western women, according to a national survey.

The reason why Chinese women develop breast cancer earlier is unknown, but experts cite various factors, including the environment, diet, lifestyle and genetics.

Early screening and proper treatment are key for breast cancer prevention and control in China, experts involved in the survey said over the weekend.

Experts spent nearly two years collecting details of breast cancer patients at seven major hospitals across the country, researching each case and how it was treated.

"The incidence of breast cancer in China, though it is still lower than Western counties, is definitely rising through our clinical observation," said the academy's Dr Qiao Youlin.

"The survey helps to collect useful information to explain the rising incidence, to learn patients' major symptoms and clinical diagnosis and treatment," Qiao said.

People in east and south China are more likely to suffer breast cancer than those in the west and central parts of the country while people in cities are more likely to suffer the disease than women in rural areas.

This could be due to their different diets and lifestyles, medical experts said.

"Family history and marital status had no significant connection with the disease, which is different from Western countries," Qiao said.

He said the survey found treatments differed greatly in different regions.

"We will work out a clinical guidance to direct diagnosis and treatment on breast cancer to regulate the medical practice in the nation," Qiao said. "Results from the survey are also useful to introduce proper measures to prevent and control breast cancer."

He said the Ministry of Health is planning a screening program for breast cancer and experts will be giving their advice on screening methods for the early and accurate detection of the disease.

The survey was carried out by the Cancer Federation of China and the Cancer Institute and Hospital under the Chinese Academy of Medical Sciences.

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