Cervical cancer is getting uncomfortably common for Chinese women, becoming the fastest rising female cancer hazard in recent years, medical experts warned.
At present, there are about 400,000 cervical cancer patients in China. More than 130,000 new cases of cervical cancer are diagnosed annually, accounting for nearly one third of the total increase in the world, according to Professor Ju Lirong, of the department of epidemiology at the Capital University of Medical Sciences.
Overall, more than 200,000 women die from cervical cancer every year in the world. These deaths are most common in developing countries, where the incidence of cervical cancer is six times higher than that in developed countries.
The fatality rate of cervical cancer in China is 11.3 percent, much higher than the rates of 5 percent seen in developed countries.
"Modern medicine has already shown that cervical cancer is the only type of cancer that can be cured through early diagnosis," said Chen Baoying, director of Beijing Women Medical Doctors Association, speaking at a ceremony to launch a free cervical cancer screening program last week.
According to Chen, Chinese women still had a low awareness of cervical cancer screening, resulting in a low percentage of women getting an early diagnosis.
The three-year program, initiated by the Capital Women Journalists' Association and China Women's News, would offer free cervical cancer smears for 100,000 women aged between 20 and 70.
"Cervical cancer could be effectively prevented if women had a screening test once a year. And if their test result is negative for two continuous years, then they only need to have a test two or three years later," said Chen Xiaoling, professor of the pathology department of Capital University of Medical Sciences.
According to medical experts, some risk factors have already been shown to be related to cervical cancer incidence.
Epidemiological research showed that 50 to 60 percent of married women had cervical lesions or cervicitis of different degrees. The risk for this group of women to develop cervical cancer can be seven times higher than normal.
Some life behaviors, such as early sexual activity, multiple sexual partners, and smoking, would also increase the risk of cervical cancer, Professor Ju warned.
To take part in the screening program, women aged between 20 and 70 can arrange an appointment by phoning 96096066 at the Beijing Contemporary Women's Hospital and General Hospital of Beijing Military Region.
(China Daily August 23, 2005)