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Cancer survival rate surpasses 70% in South Korea

22 December 2016 No Comment

The survival rate of cancer patients in Korea has surpassed 70 percent, due to early diagnosis and treatment through advanced medical technology, the health authorities said Tuesday.

According to the Ministry of Health and Welfare and the National Cancer Center, in a survey conducted between 2010 and 2014, 70.3 percent of cancer patients had survived more than five years after their first diagnosis. The rate is on a marked increase since the 1990s when only 41.2 percent of the patients survived.

Thyroid cancer reported the highest survival rate at almost 100 percent, followed by prostate and breast cancers.

By contrast, liver, lung and pancreatic cancer patients were less likely to survive, with the survival rate at 32.8 percent, 25.1 percent and 10.1 percent, respectively.

The number of cancer patients has decreased since 2011 when 324.9 people out of 100,000 were newly diagnosed. The number declined to 323.3 in 2012, 314.1 in 2013 and 289.1 in 2014.

Out of the country’s 57 million population, more than 1.46 million people were diagnosed with cancer at least once since 1999, meaning one in 35 people experienced the disease and either completely recovered or are still undergoing treatment. By gender, women outnumbered men at 819,000 to 645,000, respectively.

By age, 9.6 percent of 6.29 million people aged 65 and older have had cancer.

Of new male patients in 2014, 17.8 percent had stomach cancer, followed by lung cancer at 14.8 percent; colon cancer, 14.3 percent; and liver cancer, 10.7 percent. For women, 23.6 percent were thyroid cancer patients, followed by breast cancer, 17.6 percent; colon cancer, 10.4 percent; and lung cancer, 9.4 percent.

“Given that an increasing number of cancer patients survive after the diagnosis, cancer doesn’t mean a death sentence anymore but a chronic disease that needs constant care and management,” a ministry official said.

As part of its effort to better help cancer patients, the ministry rolled out five-year comprehensive plan (2016-2020) last September.

Under the plan, three cancer centers will be set up to provide the patients with medical, psychological and social support by adopting systematic management and treatment information sharing.

Hospice centers will be built in an effort to help terminal cancer patients end their lives with dignity. Hospice workers on call will be dispatched to homes to help the patients and their family.

The ministry will compile data for a national cancer map to show the regions where specific cancer patients are concentrated, to help identify the possible causes of the disease, as well as to develop region-specific follow-up treatments.

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