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The Three-arrow Strategy on Cancer Prevention for World Cancer Day
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In recent years, we have heard a lot of news about celebrities passing away from cancer. Apart from our sorrow and regrets, it also raises the public awareness of the impact of cancer to our health. As February 4 is the World Cancer Day, the Union for International Cancer Control (UICC) calls for everyone to join this year’s campaign – “I Am and I Will”. Whoever you are, you have the power to reduce the impact of cancer for yourself. At the beginning of a new year, the Health Promotion Administration lists below the “Three–arrow strategy” for achieving a healthy life. Cancer prevention may not be a dream, but may become a reality.
First arrow: I am willing to quit smoking, drinking, and chewing betel quid
Mr. Kuo, who is a construction worker, used to smoke and chew betel quid. When he first noticed the abnormal, painful swelling in his oral cavity, he went to see the doctor and was diagnosed with oral cancer. He was recommended to quit chewing betel nut. After the diagnosis, Mr. Kuo participated in the smoking and betel quid cessation program, and he finally succeeded.
The World Health Organization (WHO) stated that 30%-50% of all cancers can be prevented. Cancer risk factors include cigarettes, alcohol, betel quid, overweight and obesity, unhealthy diet, lack of exercise, tumor virus (hepatitis B, hepatitis C, and human papillomavirus) infection. There is strong evidence that an individual’s risk of developing cancer can be substantially reduced by healthy behavior: not using tobacco, alcohol, and betel quid, getting sufficient physical activity, eating healthy foods in moderation. If we can effectively promote healthy behaviors, much of the suffering and death from cancer can be prevented or reduced. By exercising 30minutes every day, one can achieve the WHO recommended 150 minutes of moderate intensity physical activity throughout the week. You can undertake in order to kick start your healthy lifestyle by taking a balanced diet including six major food groups (fruits, vegetables, protein, dairy, grains and oils), and cutting low fat, sodium, and sugar in the New Year.
Second arrow: I am eligible for cancer screening, I will take part in the four cancer screening tests!
Mr. Lin, aged 53 this year, received a colorectal cancer screening (fecal immunochemical test, FIT) last year. He received positive (abnormal) FIT and was advised to be followed-up with colonoscopy. One polyp was found during colonoscopy and was completely removed in the same time. It is recommended that Mr. Lin should take follow-up exams with his physician every two years.
In his case, as polyps are found early during a colonoscopy, doctors can remove it and stop colorectal cancer before it starts. If the pre-cancer lesion was detected through the screening, it could be treated easily to prevent cancer. Currently, the government provides and subsidizes four major cancer screening, namely colorectal cancer, oral cancer, breast cancer, and cervical cancer to citizens. The four cancer screening services have proven to be effective in reducing the mortality. In Taiwan, the survival rate of breast cancer from early detection (Stage 0,1, and 2) is as high as 90%. Moreover, the survival rate of colorectal, cervical and oral cancer through early detection (Stage 0-1) is also as high as 80%. Getting screening tests regularly may find breast, cervical, oral and colorectal (colon) cancers early, said by HPA, when treatment is likely to work best.
Third arrow: If I am a cancer patient, I am willing to choose the standard treatments!
Ms. Wang said that she drove in a state of panic after finding out she had breast cancer. Without her family and medical team, she could not accept her surgery and chemotherapy. After she had completed cancer treatment, she went back for follow-up examinations regularly and was able to return to work as she did before.
When patients are diagnosed with cancer, it is immense pressure on the patients, mentally and physically. It is imperative that people support them and accompany them through the diagnosis and treatment of the disease. The HPA has invested resources to roll out the “Oncology Nurse Navigator Program”. Once a patient has been diagnosed with cancer, the oncology nurse manager would proactively contact the patient and encourage them to take timely treatment. Furthermore, the emotional support, encouragement, and experience sharing by other cancer patients help patients to understand the importance of receiving treatment as early as possible.
Director-General Ying-Wei Wang invites the public, no matter the healthy, cancer survivors, or the patients currently fighting cancer to participate in the “Three-arrow Strategy ” and join the “I Am and I Will” campaign.