China - Chinese women in their 40s are getting breast cancer

International Journal of Health Care Quality Assurance

ISSN: 0952-6862

Article publication date: 19 July 2011




(2011), "China - Chinese women in their 40s are getting breast cancer", International Journal of Health Care Quality Assurance, Vol. 24 No. 6.



Emerald Group Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2011, Emerald Group Publishing Limited

China - Chinese women in their 40s are getting breast cancer

Article Type: News and views From: International Journal of Health Care Quality Assurance, Volume 24, Issue 6

Keywords: Breast cancer screening, Patient information, Healthcare strategy, Healthcare improvement programmes

While the prevalence of breast cancer among women in Asia is lower than the global average, those who are hit by it in China tend to develop the illness at a much younger age, according to a new survey conducted by the Cancer Foundation of China.

The survey sampled more than 4,200 patients from throughout the mainland between 1999 and 2008, and it found nearly 40 percent of the women who developed the disease were aged between 40 and 49 – ten years younger than their Western counterparts.

“The findings are significant for more targeted intervention efforts in the country, including raising public awareness, campaigns and breast cancer screening programs”, said Professor Zhang Baoning of the Cancer Institute and Hospital, Chinese Academy of Medical Science.

Professor Zhang recommended that breast cancer screening should be targeted at women starting at age 35. The mortality rate is declining in the West due to early detection and proper treatment. Also, most Western countries started breast cancer screening programs since the early 1960s.

In China, however, the government did not start its free breast cancer screening program for rural women until 2008. A free breast cancer screening program for urban residents is expected soon, said Professor Shen Zhenzhou of Fudan University’s Shanghai Cancer Centre.

In recent years, China has seen a 20 per cent increase in the number of women with breast cancer, which may be an outcome of people adopting Western lifestyles, including high-stress careers and high-cholesterol and high-fat diets.

Major cities such as Shanghai show an incidence rate of 70 per 100,000, and some clinical doctors have even reported cases of women with the disease who are less than 20 years old. According to the latest statistics from the Ministry of Health, the incidence rate among urban women is 40 per 100,000. In the countryside it stands at 15 per 100,000.

Worldwide, Asian countries are seen as having low rates of breast cancer according to the World Health Organisation.

The United States, which has a rate of 101.1 per 100,000, is the most heavily affected country. However, international studies have found that breast cancer rates among Chinese women who have been in the US for more than ten years are 80 percent higher than among those who just arrived. Asians born in America have similar breast cancer rates as Caucasians born in America, suggesting environmental factors play a role in the disease.

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